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Create Your Own Greeting Cards! p.76 Is It Time For VoIP? 

Fast Fixes 


& Hardware p.101 

Error Messages 

The Dirty Dozen p.96 

Create & Burn 
Your Video p.38 

Find A Friend At p.46 


Top Security 
Suites p.21 

WiflXP News, 
Views & Tips p.30 

PC Parts p.4i 

Time For VolP? P .5Q / y L/WinXP's File & Settings Transfer Wizard p.32 

^0* I 


I In Plain Fnnlkh *J 

In Plain English 



From The Pros! 

What We Can Find Out 
About YOU On The Web 

ThinkPad® recommends Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional, 




Availability: All offers subject to availability. Lenovo reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time, without notice. Lenovo is not responsible for photographic or typographic errors. "'"Pricing: Prices do not include tax or shipping or recycling fees and are 
subject to change without notice. Reseller prices may vary. Warranty: For a copy of applicable product warranties, write to: Warranty Information, P.O. Box 12195, RTP, NC 27709, Attn: Dept UF2A/B203. Lenovo makes no representation or warranty regarding third party products or 
services. Footnotes: (1) Mobile Processors: Power management reduces processor speed when in battery mode. (2) Wireless: based on IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b and 802. llg respectively. An adapter with lla/b, llb/g or lla/b/g can communicate on either/any of these listed 
formats respectively; the actual connection will be based on the access point to which it connects. (3) Included software: may differ from its retail version (if available), and may not include user manuals or all program functionality. License agreements may apply. (4) Memory: 
For PCs without a separate video card, memory supports both system and video. Accessible system memory is up to 64MB less than the amount stated, depending on video mode. (5) Hard drive: GB = billion bytes. Accessible capacity is less; up to 4GB is service partition. (7) 
Thinness: may vary at certain points on the system. (8) Travel Weight: includes battery and optional travel bezel instead of standard optical drive in Ultrabay bay, if applicable; weight may vary due to vendor components, manufacturing process and options. (9) Internet access 





Hackers, beware. These ThinkPad® notebooks have Intel® Centrino™ 
Mobile Technology, so users can work wirelessly with greater freedom. 
And their work will be protected. Because select ThinkPad notebooks, like 
the T42 featured to the right, offer security features like an added layer of 
data protection — a vault-like combination of a built-in security chip and 
data encryption software. And we're the only ones to offer wireless PCs with 
this level of security as a standard feature. So users can be wireless. 
Without being defenseless. 

ThinkPad R51 


Embedded Security Subsystem 2.0 10 - 
Strong security as a standard feature 


Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology 
Intel® Pentium® M Processor 725 (1.60GHz) 1 
Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802,llb/g) 2 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 3 

14.1" XGA TFT Display (1024x768) 

256MB DDR SDRAM 4 , 40GB Hard Drive 5 

1049 (P/N2883ELU) 

ThinkPad Carrying Case - 
Leather Attache 6 

129 (P/N73P3600) 

ThinkPad T42 

Embedded Security Subsystem 2.0 - 
Strong security as a standard feature 


Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology 
Intel® Pentium® M Processor 725 (1.60GHz) 
Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.1 Ib/g) 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 

256MB DDR SDRAM, 40GB Hard Drive 

Only 1" thin 7 and 4.5-lb travel weight 8 

14/9 (P/N2378R4U) 

ThinkPad Women's Executive Red 
Leather Tote 

130 (P/N22P8858) 

With the Think Express Program, ThinkPad notebooks are preeonfigured with your business, and your budget, in mind. 

Contact your authorized reseller. 

To find one near you, or to buy direct, go to Or call 1 866-426-0454. 
ThinkPad is a product of Lenovo. 


required; not included. (10) Embedded Security Subsystem: requires software download. (1 1) Limited warranty: Support unrelated to a warranty issue may be subject to additional charges. {12} Systems with limited onsite service: are designed to be repaired during the applicable 
warranty period primarily with customer-replaceable parts. A technician will only be sent onsite to perform a repair if (a) remote telephone diagnosis and/or customer part replacement are unable to resolve the problem, or(b) the part is one of the few designated by Lenovo for onsite 
replacement, for a list of onsite replaceable parts, contact Lenovo. Support unrelated to a warranty issue may be subject to additional charges. Trademarks: The following are trademarks of Lenovo Group Ltd: ThinkPad, ThinkCentre and Ultra Connect. Microsoft and Windows are 
registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Intel, Intel Inside, Intel Inside logo, Intel Centrino, Intel Centrino logo, Celeron, Intel Xeon, Intel SpeedStep, Itanium, Pentium, and Pentium III Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the 
United States and other countries. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of other companies. ©2005 Lenovo Group Ltd. All rights reserved. 
Visit periodically for the latest information on safe and effective computing. 

ThinkPad® recommends Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional. 




Each ThinkPad notebook you see here has 

ThinkVantage Technologies - innovations that 

widen the lead between ThinkPads and all the 

wannabe PCs. 

Active Protection System: Protect your hard drive from 

some damage caused by drops and jolts. 

Rescue and Recovery: Recover previously saved data 

in minutes with our one-button solution. 

Access Connections: Switch between wired and wireless 

connections easily. 9 

Embedded Security Subsystem 2.0: Protect data and 

keep it private with our combined hardware and 

software solution. 10 

ThinkPad R50e 

Mainstream performance and features. 


Intel® Centrino"" Mobile Technology 
Intel® Pentium® M Processor 715a (1.50GHz) 
Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG <802.11b/g) 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 

15" XGA TFT Display (1024x768) 


30GB Hard Drive 

1-yr limited warranty 11 
999 (P/N 1842PPU) 

ThinkPad T40/R50 Series 
9 Cell Li-Ion Battery 


(P/N 92P1102) 


ThinkPad T42 

Perfect balance of performance and portability. 


Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology 
Intel® Pentium® M Processor 725 (1.60GHz) 
Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.1 lb/g) 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 
256MB DDR SDRAM, 40GB Hard Drive 
Only 1" thin 7 and 4.5-lb travel weight 8 
1 329 (P/N 2378R4U) 

ThinkPad T43 with Integrated 
Fingerprint Reader 

Perfect balance of performance and portability. 


Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology 
Intel® Pentium® M Processor 750 (1.85GHz) 
Intel® PRO/Wireless 2915ABG (802.1 la/b/g) 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 

14.1" SXGA + TFT Display (1024x768) 


60GB Hard Drive, Ultrabay Slim Multi-burner Plus 

Only 1" thin and 4.7-lb. travel weight 

3-yr system/ 1-yr battery limited warranty 11 

2049 (P/N 2687 D3U) 

ThinkPad Carrying Case - 

Organizer case, variety of 
roomy pockets and pouches 

$ 99 

(P/N 73P3598) 

Contact your authorized reseller. 

To find one near you, or to buy direct, go to Or call 1 866-426-0454. 
ThinkPad and ThinkCentre are products of Lenovo. 

ThinkPad X40 Solution Pack 

Ultimate mobility in a versatile ultra portable. 


Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology 
Intel® Pentium® M Processor LV 738 (1.40GHz) 
Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.1 lb/g) 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 

12.1" XGA TFT Display (1024x768) 

Only .94" thin 

3-yr system/1 -yr battery limited warranty 11 

Accessories Included; 
X4 Ultrabase Dock 
Ultrabay Slim CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo 


$2249 (p/N 2832Ecu ) 

ThinkPad Nylon Carrying Case 

Inside you'll find SafePORT Air 
Cushion Protection which adjusts 
to cradle X, T, R or G Series 
notebook computers. 


(P/N 10K0207) 

Availability: All offers subject to availability. Lenovo reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time, without notice. Lenovo is not responsible for photographic or typographic errors. ^Pricing: Prices do not include tax or shipping or recycling fees and are 
subject to change without notice. Reseller prices may vary. Warranty: For a copy of applicable product warranties, write to: Warranty Information, P.O. Box 12195, RTP NC 27709, Attn: Dept UF2A/B203. Lenovo makes no representation or warranty regarding third party products or 
services, Footnotes; (1) Mobile Processors: Power management reduces processor speed when in battery mode. (2) Wireless: based on IEEE 802,11a, 802.11b and 802, Ug respectively. An adapter with lla/b, llb/g or 1 la/b/g can communicate on either/any of these listed 
formats respectively; the actual connection will be based on the access point to which it connects. (3) Included software: may differ from its retail version (if available), and may not include user manuals or all program functionality. License agreements may apply. (4) Memory: 
For PCs without a separate video card, memory supports both system and video. Accessible system memory is up to 64MB less than the amount stated, depending on video mode. (5) Hard drive: GB = billion bytes. Accessible capacity is less; up to 4GB is service partition. (7) 
Thinness: may vary at certain points on the system. (8) Travel Weight: includes battery and optional travel bezel instead of standard optical drive in Ultrabay bay, if applicable; weight may vary due to vendor components, manufacturing process and options. (9) Internet access 


(monitor not included) 

ThinkCentre A50 

Sleek tower design. 


Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with HT 

Technology 3GHz 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 
512MB DDR memory at 400MHz 

80GB 7200rpm drive, Combo Drive 

6 USB 2.0 Ports (2 frontside) 

3-yr limited warranty with 1-yr limited 

onsite service 12 

899 (P/N 814723U) 

ThinkCentre A50 

Ultra Small form factor. 


Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with HT 
Technology 2.80GHz 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 

256MB DDR memory at 333MHz 
40GB 7200rpm Hard Drive, CD-ROM 
6 USB 2.0 Ports (2 frontside) 
1-yr limited warranty with 1-yr limited 
onsite service 1 * 

629 (P/N 809011U) 

ThinkCentre A50 

Sleek tower design. 


Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with HT 
Technology 3GHz 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 
256MB DDR memory at 400MHz 
40GB 7200rpm Hard Drive, CDRW 
6 USB 2.0 Ports (2 frontside) 

1-yr limited warranty with 1-yr limited 
onsite service 12 

669 (P/N 814822U) 

17" ThinkVision L170 Fiat 

Panel Monitor 

This affordable monitor is ideal 
for worksheets, multi-tasking, 
and general business applications. 
Plus, its small footprint is great for 
saving space. 

359 (P/N 6734AC0) 

E400 Projector 

Small and feature-rich, 
the E400 is a cost-effective 
solution for your business and 
entertainment needs featuring 
DLP technology. 

999 (P/N 0038A04) 

(monitor not included) 

(monitor not included) 

ThinkCentre A51P 

Affordable performance. 


Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with HT 
Technology 3GHz 

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional 
256MB DDR2 memory at 400MHz 
40GB 7200rpm Hard Drive, CD-RW 
8 USB 2.0 Ports (2 frontside) 
1-yr limited warranty with 1-yr limited 
onsite service 12 


(P/N 842721U) 

$ 799 

Preferred Pro USB Fingerprint Keyboard 

99 (P/N 73P4730) 


ThinkVantage Technologies are innovations that 
help you work more efficiently and productively. 
And no other desktop PCs have them. 
ThinkVantage Design: ThinkCentre® desktops offer an 
easy-to-service steel chassis design to help increase 
uptime and protect the contents of your system. 
Embedded Security Subsystem 2.0: Protect data and 
keep it private with our combined hardware and 
software solution. 10 

Rescue and Recovery: Recover previously saved data 
in minutes with our one-button solution. 

ThinkCentre. ThinkPad. 

required; not included. (10) Embedded Security Subsystem: requires software download. (11) Limited warranty: Support unrelated to a warranty issue may be subject to additional charges. (12) Systems with limited onsite service: are designed to be repaired during the applicable 
warranty period primarily with customer-replaceable parts. A technician will only be sent onsite to perform a repair if (a) remote telephone diagnosis and/or customer part replacement are unable to resolve the problem, or (b) the part is one of the few designated by Lenovo for onsite 
replacement. For a list of onsite replaceable parts, contact Lenovo. Support unrelated to a warranty issue may be subject to additional charges. Trademarks; The following are trademarks of Lenovo Group Ltd: ThinkPad, ThinkCentre and UltraConnect. Microsoft and Windows are 
registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Intel, Intel Inside, Intel Inside logo, Intel Centrino, Intel Centrino logo, Celeron, Intel Xeon, Intel SpeedStep, Itanium, Pentium, and Pentium III Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the 
United States and other countries. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of other companies. ©2005 Lenovo Group Ltd. All rights reserved. 
Visit periodically for the latest information on safe and effective computing. 

^■1 — A smartcomputing.a 


I In Plain Fnnlkh *J 


In Plain English 

Volume 16 . July 2005 . Issue 7 

This Month's Cover Story: 

Enter The World Of Digital Cameras 



* m 




■ db Xa77P# x 


1 ot^ lxe 


12 TechMates 

A Journey To Weil-Being 

Sandy Berger evaluates a myriad 
of products on the market and 
offers duos that'll help take your 
computing savvy to a new level. 

16 Tech Diaries 

Our Smart Computing colum- 
nists spent some quality time 
with computer and computer- 
related hardware to get beyond 
the benchmark scores, statistics, 
and marketing hype. Find out 
what they liked and disliked 
about their choices. 

21 Line Of Defense 

Many users are now reporting 
that using the Internet isn't fun 
anymore — thanks to virus writ- 
ers, spyware developers, crack- 
ers, and spammers. That's why 
we focus on Internet security 
suites this month and share how 
they can help you protect your 
data and enjoy your time online. 

24 Software Reviews 


MSN Messenger 7 24 

Security: HijackThis 25 

Multimedia: Replay Radio 25 

28 Impulse Items 

Each month, we take a look at 
several useful gadgets and pro- 
grams you can get for $25 or less. 

Universal Memory Drive 


£ft> uttvS 

Copyright 2005 by Sandhills Publishing Company. Smart Computing is a 
registered trademark of Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction 
of material appearing in Smart Computing is strictly prohibited without written permission. 
Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 123482788RT0001 Smart Computing USPS 005-665 (ISSN 
1093-4170) is published monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 
West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. Subscriber Services: (800) 424- 
7900. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, NE. POSTMASTER: Send address changes 
to Smart Computing, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. 

PC Ops 

Tech Support 

30 WinXP News & Tips: Simple Web Publishing With Web Folders 

Everyone wants a place to call his own: WinXP's Add Network 
Place Wizard can help you carve out your own online niche 


32 Windows XP Files And Settings Transfer Wizard ~4 J 

Now that you've ponied up for that brand new, shiny PC, you're 
wondering how best to make your new PC as familiar as the old 
one. Let the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard do the work for you. 

General Computing 

96 The Dirty Dozen 

We take a dozen of the most alarming 
and confusing error messages you're 
likely to see and dissect them one 
by one. 

99 Examining Errors 
101 Fast Fixes 

36 How Did They Do That? 

Magic In The Air 

Fourth of July fireworks displays are among the highlights of many a summer. 
Find out how the experts make dazzling displays in the night sky. 

38 Digital Video Handbook, Part III: Create Your DVD 

In the final chapter of a three-part series, learn how to get your edited video 
on to a DVD. 

102 Q&A/FAQs 

You have questions. We have answers. 
The Smart Computing staff responds to 
your queries. 

107 Action Editor 

Can't seem to get a response from a 
vendor or manufacturer? If you need 
help, we're here for you. 

41 Stumbling Blocks 

Quick Studies 

Proprietary parts may have their place, but when it comes to upgrading or 
replacing a part in your PC, they can make your task all the more difficult. 

Plugged In 

80 Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Secrets Of An Effective Slide 

81 Browsers 

Spruce Up IE With Maxthon 

82 Microsoft Excel 2002 

Sorting Data 

83 Print Shop Deluxe 15 

Add Spice With Sound 8c Video 

84 Microsoft Word 2002 

Scan 8c Process Paper Documents, Part I 

85 Intuit Quicken 2005 Premier 

Analyze Your Current Investments 

86 Quick Tips 

44 Mr. Modem's Desktop: A Googol By Any Other Name 

In which Mr. Modem, author of several books — none of which have won the 
Pulitzer Prize — and co-host of the weekly "PC Chat" radio show, explains how 
Google came to be called Google. 

46 Site Guide: Leads To Positive Results 

By actively working with more than 8,600 animal shelters and placement 
organizations, has been able to help find homes for more 
than 1.5 million animals per year. 

50 Your Computer's Ringing 

VoIP is an exciting new technology, but the jury's out on whether it's ready for 

the big leagues. 

52 Your Secret (Data) Is Out 

The Internet can be a terrific resource — which is good and bad. With a bit of 
digging, some miscreant could dig up information you'd rather remain private. 

55 Web Tips 

56 Find It Online 

Tech Support Center 

Check out the 
Tech Support Center: Expert help, 
online, all the time. 

PC Project 


76 It's In The Cards 

You don't need to spend hours at the store searching for the perfect greeting 
card; we show you how to use your PC to design your own cards. 

Each Month 

94 Instant Messaging 

IM isn't just for teeny-boppers any- 
more. Get all the details on a wildly 
popular way to keep in touch. 

7 Technology News & Notes 96 Tech Support 
56 Find It Online 108 Editorial License 

Editor's Note 

Years ago, I worked in the Shipping & Receiving department of a custom photo lab. I had no idea 
what was going on around me: People kept talking about emulsions and f-stops, dodging and 
depth of field, reciprocity and reticulation It was all Greek to me. 

Enter my friend, Jack, an excellent photographer who decided that he would teach me. He brought me 
a 35mm Nikon and a medium-format Hasselblad. Thousands of dollars' worth of cameras (even back 
then), and Jack casually handed them to me and told me to start shooting. 

And so I did. I shot four rolls of film per day, every day. Every morning, we'd develop and print the 
images, and every afternoon we'd critique what I'd done. Six months of this made me into a compe- 
tent (I hesitate to say talented) photographer. Since then, I've shot weddings (and, on one memorable 
occasion, a funeral), taught photography to high school students, and spent hours in the darkroom. 

Now, photography has gone digital. No more sequestering myself in the darkroom: I sit at my desk, 
modifying images on a computer. No more fussing with enlargers, test-strips, and chemicals to make a 
print: Now my trusty little Epson printer does all of that. No more spending hours developing film in 
order to discover whether I'd captured the moment as I'd intended: Now I look at the images as soon 
as I shoot them and then move 'em (well, the good ones, anyway) over to the computer. 

Yet, in spite of how much it's changed, the essential appeal of photography remains the same. We still 
try to "make" great pictures and we still attempt to capture The Moment as it happens. What drew us 
to photography in the first place remains the same; all that's really changed are the tools we use. 

This issue is dedicated to those who're moving (or thinking about moving) to digital photography. 
Whether you're an old pro or a complete neophyte, we have the tips and techniques you need to be a 
success in this brave new digital world. 

Rod Scher, Publication Editor 

Now Available On Newsstands . . . 

Computer Power User * PCs vs. Workstations: What's Better, What's Best 

We decided to take things up a notch — by presenting rigs used by ultimate com- 
puter power users: workstations. We also put together 1 1 digicams that you need to 
consider on your next shopping spree. 

PC Today * Wireless Made Easy 

If you want to join the world of wireless computing but don't know the first thing 
about how Wi-Fi, cell phones, Bluetooth, and other technologies work, this month's 
PC Today offers the crash course you need. 

CE Lifestyles * CE Sports & GPS Devices 

In this month's CE Lifestyles, we'll show you how the latest in CE sport and GPS 
devices can improve your health and well-being. Plus, we cover a service that 
allows you to play your music on your cell phone, and show you what to do with 
all that space above your wall-mounted TV. 

Reference Series * Working with PC Files 

Now in its third edition, this invaluable reference is back by popular demand, with 
cover-to-cover updates and a whole new section of articles on working with digital 
photos, music, and video files. Get the information you need to make your files 
work with the latest versions of popular applications, learn how to transfer and 
recover all kinds of data step-by-step, and identify unfamiliar files on your system. 

Customer Service 

(For questions about your subscription or 
to place an order or change an address.) 
(800) 733-3809 
Fax: (402) 479-2193 
Smart Computing 
P.O. Box 85380 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380 


Mon. - Fri.: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST) 

Sat.: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CST) 

Online Customer Service and Subscription Center 

Web Services 

(For questions about our Web site.) 
(800) 368-8304 

Authorization For Reprints 

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FAX: (402) 479-2104 

Editorial Staff 
FAX: (402) 479-2104 
131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 

Subscription Renewals 

(800) 424-7900 
FAX: (402) 479-2193 artcom p uti 

Advertising Staff 

FAX: (402) 479-2104 
131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 

Editorial Staff Ronald D. Kobler / Rod Scher / 

Kimberly Fitzke / Sally Curran / Samit Gupta 

Choudhuri / Corey Russman / Christopher Trumble 

/ Calvin Clinchard / Katie Sommer / Katie Dolan / 

Blaine Flamig / Raejean Brooks / Rebecca 

Christensen / Michael Sweet / Nate Hoppe / 

Jennifer Suggitt / Trista Kunce / Sheila Allen / Linne 

Ourada / Liz Dixon / Ryan Syrek / Joy Martin / Brian 

Weed / Sarie Whitson / Marty Sems / Chad Denton 

/ Nathan Chandler / Kylee Dickey /Josh Gulick / 

Andrew Leibman / Vince Cogley / Sam Evans / 

Jennifer Johnson 

Web Staff: Missy Fletcher / Dorene Krausnick / 

Laura Curry / Brandie Humphrey / Travis Brock 

Customer Service: Becky Rezabek / Lana Matic / 


Subscription Renewals: Liz Kohout / Connie 

Beatty / Matt Boiling / Patrick Kean / Charmaine 

Vondra / Miden Ebert / Kathy DeCoito / Stephanie 

Contreras / Nicole Buckendahl 

Art & Design: Lesa Call / Fred Schneider / Carrie 

Benes / Ginger Riley / Sonja Warner / Aaron Weston 

/ Aaron Clark / Kelli Lambertsen / Lori Garris /Jason 

Codr / Andria Schultz / Erin Rodriguez / Lindsay 


Newsstand: Garth Lienemann / Kelly Richardson / 

Chris McGreer / Jeff Schnittker 

Advertising Sales: Grant Ossenkop / Cindy Pieper / 

Brooke Wolzen / Eric Cobb 

Marketing Mark Peery / Marcy Gunn / Jen Clausen / 

Luke Vavricek / Ashley Hannant / Scot Banks 






Technology News & Notes 





Compiled by Christian Perry 
Illustrated by Lori Garris 

PCs Pony Up 
Living Wills 

As the recent Terri Schiavo de- 
bate continues to spark interest 
in living wills, people wanting to 
define explicit future health care in- 
structions might be tempted to call 
their attorneys to get their wishes 
put in writing. But before picking 
up the phone, they might want to 
consider whether they'd be better 
off turning on their computers. 

Also known as health care direc- 
tives, living wills indicate whether 
(or how) an individual wants to re- 
ceive artificial life support or other 
life-sustaining procedures, in the 
event that the person becomes in- 
capacitated. A living will also can 
grant another person legal power to 
oversee the health care decisions of 
the person who created the will. 

Online Drugstores 
Fill The Bill 

According to a recent survey by comScore 
Networks, U.S. consumers have positive thought; 
about online pharmacies, even while they're 
concerned about the safety of drugs available online. 
When surveyed, U.S. online pharmacy visitors revealed 
the following thoughts about online pharmacies: 

Online pharmacies are 
providing healthy 
competition to regular 







Some prescription drugs 
that have been proven 
effective should be 
available to the public 
despite secondary effects, 
under the direct supervision 
of a health care professional: 

Very concerned about 
the safety of drugs 
available online: 

(Source: comScore Networks, April 2005) 

Disagree — J^ 












Although attorneys can handle 
these documents, software is avail- 
able that can make the process a 
little less stressful and a lot more af- 
fordable. Programs such as Quicken 
WillMaker Plus from Nolo and 
Kiplinger's WILLPower from H&R 
Block let users create living wills 
using simple step-by-step interviews 
and other tools that help gather all 
the pertinent information. Like tax 
applications, software for creating 
living wills generally outlines varying 
state-to-state laws, which is crucial 
when it comes to living wills because 
the documents aren't officially rec- 
ognized in all states. 

If you don't want to shell out $30 
(or more) for the software, you can 
obtain state-specific living will doc- 
uments from Web sites. However, 
some sites charge for the creation of 
a living will, whereas others simply 
provide forms that you can down- 
load for free and fill out yourself. 

At the Legaldocs site (, you can receive an auto- 
matically generated living will to 
print and fill out. The requirements 
for the generated document and the 
printed document differ by state. For 
example, New Hampshire requires 
you to supply your name and full ad- 
dress, including the city, county, and 
state where you'll be signing your 
living will, whereas Massachusetts 
doesn't require your address. On the 
other hand, Massachusetts requires 
two witnesses to sign the will, along 
with a notary's signature and seal, 
whereas Indiana requires only two 
witnesses' signatures. I 

Smart Computing / July 2005 7 

Tech News 

Mesh Your Multimedia 

If you're tired of fiddling with 
multiple programs to handle 
your video, movie, music, and pic- 
ture needs, perhaps it's time to con- 
sider a program that handles all of 
those duties, such as CyberLink's 
PowerCinema 3 ($49.95; www.go 

Using a bold, no-nonsense inter- 
face, this program delivers easy 
access to all of your basic multi- 
media tasks. For movies, you'll find 
all of the options you'd expect 
when playing DVDs, including 
angle switching and chapter 
browsing, and you will even 
find controls to modify the 
brightness and saturation of 
movies. PowerCinema also 
supports other video for- 
mats, including AVI ( Audio - 
Video Interleaved), WMV 
(Windows Media Video), 
ASF (Advanced Streaming 
Format), and others. 

In addition, the software features 
a music player with decent sort op- 
tions, though you'll find more pow- 
erful options in standalone players 
such as Winamp. PowerCinema also 
can manage your pictures, using 
slideshows that you can modify with 
different transition effects. 

Although none of these tools offer 
more than what's available in stand- 
alone programs, PowerCinema still 
does a good job of tidying up the 
process of handling varied multi- 
media tasks. I 

Phones, PCs In Harmony 

As mobile phones inch increas- 
ingly closer to PDAs in terms of 
productivity, it would seem logical 
that they should be able to interact 
with our PCs. So go ahead and try 
to hook up your phone to your PC 
and let us know what happens. 

On the flip side, you could 
always try the FutureDial Suite 
( Compatible 
with more than 120 phones for 
Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, Cingular, 
and T-Mobile services, FutureDial 
lets you synchronize phone books, 
calendars, and to-do lists between 
your phone and Microsoft Out- 
look. You also can upload pictures 
from your phone to your PC, add 
images and photos from your PC 
to your phone, add ringtones to 

your phone, and even use your 
mobile phone as a wireless Internet 
modem for your PC. 

That's great, but you'll pay 
handsomely for those privileges 
because the software suite retails 
at $49.99. Oh, and did we men- 
tion the phone-specific cable? 
You'll need one of those, too, at 
$29.99 apiece. I 

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jJC Er in prr rirWr 'M^.f Hlw 

Clean & Mean 

Considering the glut of effective free pro- 
grams that can help protect your pri- 
vacy, a premium product needs to offer a 
complete privacy-protection package to 
succeed. For the most part, CyberScrub 
Professional Suite 4.0 hits that target. Its 
Privacy Guard tool addresses five privacy- 
sensitive areas, including Windows (swap 
files, temporary files, and others), browsers, 
peer-to-peer programs, newsreaders, and 
email clients, along with a custom option 
that lets you specify your own sensitive areas. 
You can select a Basic option for preconfig- 
ured settings, but the Advanced option lets 
you specify precisely which components 
you'd like CyberScrub to clean. The program 
also includes a built-in scheduler and its 
Panic Key, which immediately closes all appli- 
cations prior to running an erasure task. 

CyberScrub claims it can erase individual 
files beyond recovery, as well as wipe the free 
space on individual or multiple hard drives. It 
features an impressive collection of wipe 
methods, offering not just the DoD (Depart- 
ment of Defense) and Gutmann methods, 
but also presenting such exotic choices as 
the Russian GOST and the German VSITR 
methods. Each method includes technical 
details and security level ratings. 

Privacy protection shouldn't require a 
Ph.D., so we find it easy to like CyberScrub's 
simple yet powerful approach to security. 
Where other programs will take chances, 
CyberScrub won't. Also, you can password 
protect the program to prevent unautho- 
rized users from using it to destroy your data. 
Although you'll pay a premium for this 
power and flexibility, rest assured that this 
program's security is done right. I 

CyberScrub Privacy Suite Professional 4.0 

(888) 350-3436 

8 July 2005 / 

Tech News 

Acrobat 7.0 Performs Amazing Feats 

Adobe's previous updates of its 
Acrobat software provided im- 
pressive functionality improvements 
over prior versions, but with its newest 
Professional version (Acrobat 7.0 
Professional; $449;, 
we're seeing some of the most exciting 
updates to PDF (Portable Document 
Format) to date. 

Using PDF files for a shared review 
process has always been tough be- 
cause users of Adobe Reader could 
never provide input into a PDF docu- 
ment. Acrobat 7.0 Professional now 
makes the PDF a viable review ve- 
hicle, letting you create PDF docu- 
ments that allow for comments 
within Adobe Reader 7.0. Users can 
comment using such tools as a high- 
lighter, a pen, sticky notes, strike- 
through marks, callouts, dimension 
lines, and others — all through a sen- 
sible interface. The document creator 
can track the feedback through a 
list of reviewers and even use digital 
signatures for electronic approval. 

If you find that keeping track of 
multiple PDF documents equates to 
multiple headaches, you'll appreciate 
Acrobat's new organizational abilities 
that let you view recently opened 
PDF documents as thumbnails and 
drag and drop files into collections. 
Better integration with Microsoft 
Word, Excel, and PowerPoint also 
increases the overall ease of use, let- 
ting you create PDF versions of doc- 
uments, spreadsheets, and slideshows 

in one step. You'll find similar one- 
step support for Microsoft Outlook, 
Publisher, Internet Explorer, and 
other programs. 

Bundled with Acrobat 7.0 Profess- 
ional is Adobe LifeCycle Designer, 
which lets you create PDF forms (or 
HTML [Hypertext Markup Language] 
documents) that not only look like 
their paper counterparts but also can 
collect user data just like the paper 
versions. These forms, useful for busi- 
ness documents such as invoices and 

timesheets, can automatically perform 
calculations and validate data. 

If you own a small business and 
regularly use a previous version of 
Acrobat, the $159 upgrade is easily 
worth the convenience of reviewable 
PDF files and better integration with 
Microsoft Office programs. You won't 
find much difference in the program's 
interface, but these aforementioned 
new abilities, as well as other enhance- 
ments that boost speed and flexibility, 
make it a worthwhile investment. I 

Duly Quoted 

"I can't explain it." 

-Douglas C. Curling, president and chief operating officer of ChoicePoint, responds to a 

U.S. Senate committee when asked why his company didn't initially 

inform the public about potential security breaches. 

(Source: The Washington Post) 

Smart Computing / July 2005 9 

Tech News 



Optek Music Systems 


Easy Pickin' 

Today's guitarists have it 
good. Twenty years ago, 
we didn't have hundreds of 
free fantastic lessons on the 
Web. We didn't have thou- 
sands of songs transcribed in 
tablature and made easily 
searchable online (thanks, 
OLGA [The On-Line Guitar 
Archive;]). We 
didn't have affordable guitars 
and accessories on eBay. And 
we certainly didn't have the 
Fretlight guitar. 

New Products Hardware 

Quick takes on the latest hardware and software to hit the market at press time. Manufacturers 1 
and publishers' release dates are subject to change, so some products may not be available when 
you read this. (Logos indicate products compatible with either Windows or Macintosh only.) 


ARCHOS • $799.95 


100GB portable video player and 
recorder with a 3.8-inch LCD 

Barricade g Wireless 
Broadband Router 

SMC Networks • $69.99 

(800) 762-4968 

Denali Camera Bag 

M-ROCK • $40 

(800) 773-7067 

EasyShot 500z 

Concord Camera 


jjU Video Advantage USB 

Turtle Beach 

(800) 233-9377 

Wireless router with four Ethernet ports 
and a DSL port 

Camera case with a protective 
weather jacket 

5A4P camera with 3X optical zoom and 
a 2-inch LCD 



TABS (Toshiba America 
Business Solutions) 

(949) 583-3000 

Mppm MFD with 600dpi resolution 


SmartDisk • $249.99 

(239) 425-4000 

Store and view images from a 
digital camera 

mm22 Portable 
Speakers for iPod 

Logitech • $79.99 


Speakers for an iPod or other portable 
music player 

USB 2.0 Hub & 
Card Reader 

IOGEAR • $49.95 

(866) 946-4327 
(949) 453-8782 

Add six Hi-Speed USB ports and a 
universal memory card reader to 
your system 

Transfer video directly from aDV 
camcorder to DVD 

10 July 2005 / 

Tech News 

This innovative instrument from 
Optek Music Systems connects to 
your PC via USB and uses software to 
illuminate LED (light-emitting diode) 
lights beneath the guitar's polymer 
fretboard. Using the software, you can 
select any of more than 3,000 chord 
voicings, 500 scales, and 550 arpeg- 
gios, which light up under the fret- 
board to show you what to play. 

Whether you're a beginner or an 
axe- slinging veteran, this system pre- 
sents plenty of opportunity for 
learning. You can select the chords, 
scales, and arpeggios to appear in all 
positions or just specific positions; 

you can even select between four- and 
five-note positions. An example track 
accompanies each item, along with an 
infinitely useful jam track that lays 
down MIDI (Musical Instrument 
Digital Interface) accompaniment 
that you can use to practice your new 
chords and scales. The software also 
includes a tuner and metronome. 

The Strat- shaped guitar has a rela- 
tively light alder body, a maple neck, 
a pearloid pickguard, two single- coil 
pickups, and one humbucker. Al- 
though the Fretlight performs simi- 
larly to a Fender Squire Stratocaster, 
we were very disappointed with the 

guitar's out-of-box condition. All 
notes on the first five frets fretted 
out (that is, they were unplayable) 
due to the guitar's ultra-low action, 
a problem best fixed by a guitar 
technician. Optek claims that each 
guitar is set up before it ships, but 
that apparently wasn't the case with 
our review unit. 

Setup issues aside, the Fretlight is a 
wonderful learning tool that helps 
you remember even the most intri- 
cate of fingerings. If you're new to the 
guitar or looking for a new way to 
boost your chops, the Fretlight is an 
intriguing option. I 

New Products Software 



AJC Active Backup 

AJC Software 


FN Program vare 

Get automatic backups each time you 
save a file 

Download book data and catalog your 
book collection 


DiaryOne 4 

PIMOne Software 

Keep a diary, complete with photos, 
videos, and even music 


Likno Web Button 
Maker 1.1 

Likno Software 

Create stylized buttons for your 
Web page 




Control several connected computers 
with one keyboard and mouse 


Partition Table 
Doctor 3.0 

PTDD Group 

Save data from hard drive partitions 
after an error 



Qwerty Studios 
$29.95 Quickly locate files and programs on 

your hard drive 



(contact via Web form) 

Design 3D animated graphics 

Smart Computing / July 2005 11 


A Journey To Well-Being 

This month's quest to find a great 
pairing ended when I found the 
Journey To Wild Divine package. 
My learning expedition, however, had 
just begun. Wild Divine is an unusual 
combination of hardware and soft- 
ware, as well as a unique interactive 
computer adventure, that combines 
biofeedback and meditation for "total- 
mind body wellness." 

Upon unpacking the box, I found a 
bright blue plastic pod about 2 inches 
high x 6 inches wide x 4 inches deep, 
which attaches to the computer with a 
USB cable. The documentation refers 
to this as the Light Stone energy trans- 
lator. Attached to this device are three 
blue Magic Rings that clamp onto 
your three middle fingers. The rings 
are biofeedback sensors that measure 
heart rate variability and skin conduc- 
tance levels. This information is transmitted 
to the Light Stone, which conveys it to the 
software. The hardware assesses how calm 
or energized you are and relays that infor- 
mation to the software. The Light Stone was 
sturdy and stable. The biofeedback sensors 
were comfortable and unobtrusive. After I 
clipped them to my fingers, I almost forgot they were there. 

Once the software was installed, the journey began. Wild 
Divine has some wonderful imagery. There are lush green 
forests, snow-capped mountains, temple-like buildings, and 
colorful gardens. The program has a good feel, clear interface, 
and excellent presentation. It also has many thoughtful 
touches. There is a magic wand you can pick up by clicking 
the mouse. The on-screen characters are actual actors to guide 
you through the journey. 

When Sophia, the first guide, started talking about the 
world of the meta- universe, a cosmic place of training, and life 
forms of the biosphere, I was somewhat alarmed about being 
drawn into some sort of religious, karmic experience. Once I 
started the game, I found my fears unfounded. Although there 
is a lot of spiritually oriented, Eastern-thought influence and 
meditation in the program, I found nothing overtly religious 
or offensive. The program provides an enchanting journey 
which uses the biofeedback mechanism and the software to 
help you control your states of energy. 

You travel throughout the Wild Divine performing tasks. 
For instance, you might come upon a set of brightly col- 
ored balls to juggle. Instead of using the mouse, keyboard, 

The Journey To Wild Divine 


The Wild Divine Project 

(866) 594-9453 

or joystick to juggle the balls, you use your 
mind. Amplify your energy by tensing up, 
laughing, or letting feelings of excitement 
run through your body, and the balls fly 
into the air. It is amazing to see the ob- 
jects on-screen react to your physical 
state, even though you do not move 
your hands or touch the PC. 

Performing energy-boosting tasks 
was fairly easy for me. I could raise my 
energy level to open a door or play with 
a ball almost effortlessly. The activities 
that required slowing down and de- 
stressing were more difficult. It took me 
25 minutes to start an on-screen fire by 
relaxing enough to move the bellows 
on the screen. After some practice, I 
was able to bring a boat to the shore and 
direct a flock of birds more easily. 
Although the interface is uncompli- 
cated, I found the on-screen tutorial valu- 
able for determining how to retrieve objects 
and steer through the program. I found some 
of the characters a little corny, but they were 
helpful in teaching how to use meditation and 
breathing techniques to modulate body 
rhythms. I was amazed at how inept I was at re- 
laxing. Using the program actually helped me 
to be a little more self- aware and taught me some valuable 
lessons in relaxation. I think I will be working on mastering 
some of the events in the game for a long time to come. 

The Journey To The Wild Divine is multifaceted. You con- 
trol where you go and what you do during the journey. There 
are enough experiences to keep you engrossed. Although Wild 
Divine is a little pricey, it can be helpful if you need to de- 
stress. If you try Wild Divine and you don't like it, you will be 
stuck with the cost of postage, but you can return the game 
within 30 days of purchase. 

Not only does Wild Divine have a perfect pairing of hard- 
ware and software, but it also merges ancient breathing and 
meditation techniques with modern biofeedback technology 
and the computer. In today's fast-paced world, this is a great 
combination. II 

by Sandy Berger 

Sandy Berger is a nationally respected technology author and 
computing expert. Sandy's aim is to convey to others in easy-ti 
understand language what they need to know to take advanta t 
today's technology. Visit her or ema\ 

12 July 2005 / 

Denon's philosophy is simple. 






(& f& & & 


Introducing Denon's New AVR-5805 

The World's First 10-channel A/V Receiver With Fully Configurable 4-zone Capabilities 

A Breakthrough In Multi-source, Multi-zone Flexibility 

For the home entertainment enthusiast and custom installer alike, Denon's new AVR-5805 delivers unprecedented four-zone home 
entertainment integration and control — all from a single component. With 10 configurable and discrete amplifiers, 16-channels of 
audio output, and the world's first-ever ability to drive two fully independent 5.1 systems, the AVR-5805 will also route audio and video 
signals from up to four independent sources and distribute them to up to four separate zones throughout the home. Its advanced 
capabilities even allow discrete power, source selection and volume control of each zone. And flexibility is just the beginning. Read on. 

Masterful Technologies And A "Sweet Spot" For Every Listener 

Behind the AVR-5805's newly designed, easy-to-read front panel display is a profusion of powerful technologies. An Equal Power 
amplifier section delivers a massive 170 watts of high-current power into each of its ten channels, processing for every popular 
7.1-, 6.1- and 5.1-channel surround sound format — from Dolby (including Pro Logic llx) and dts, to THX Ultra2 and THX Surround EX. 
The AVR-5805 also introduces the latest in Auto Setup Calibration and Equalization with the Audyssey MultEQ XT system, tailoring 
sound not only to the listening environment but also to the audience. This advanced technology analyzes and calibrates six critical 
settings including variable crossover point detection. It also determines the correct frequency response for up to six separate 
listener positions and then averages all six. The result? Literally a "sweet spot" for every listener in the room. 



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Advanced Video Conversion And Denon's Exclusive Circuitry 

The AVR-5805 offers a full complement of advanced processing capabilities like HDMI/DVI digital video selection, video up-scaling 
(including Faroudja DCDi technology for analog sources) and the world's first dual, independent video conversion for unmatched simplicity 
and the highest picture quality from all your video gear. For even greater A/V performance, it employs the most advanced Texas Instruments' 
and Analog Devices' 32-bit DSP processors, Burr-Brown 24-bit/l 92kHz audio DACs, as well as Denon's newly improved DDSC-D 
(Dynamic Discrete Surround Decoder-Digital). And to top it off, exclusive Advanced AL24 Processing Plus circuitry maximizes all source 
signals so that the high-resolution DA converters work at peak capacity. 

More Connection Options Than Any Receiver In The Industry 

In addition to an extensive complement of digital and analog A/V connections, the AVR-5805 includes a full array of "custom installation" 
features: assignable high amperage DC trigger outputs, dual RS-232C ports to facilitate integrated system and PC connectivity, and a 
built-in Ethernet port that adds more system control as well as future updates and upgrades. In-demand connection options include 
6 high-bandwidth (100 MHz,) HDTV-compatible component video inputs, HD switching for 2 zones and much more. Finally, the latest 
version of Denon Link 3 and dual IEEE-1394 inputs allow for reception of high-resolution, multi-channel digital audio data directly from 
compatibly equipped DVD players. It all adds up to total flexibility and the ultimate level of sonic performance. Denon does it again. 

The First Name in Digital Audio 

Tech Diaries 

Make The Switch 

Bring Your Analog Videos Into The Future 

Joshua Gulick 

Send your comments to 


•■•® • iS 

■%®& % 

Video Advantage PCI 


Turtle Beach 

(800) 233-9377 


If you ask me, outdated technology hangs 
around way too long. The 8 -track player 
faded quickly, but cassette players linger 
and VHS players still grace entertainment 
center shelves, even as we head into the 
next generation of DVDs. As consumers, 
we can't blame electronics manufacturers 
for the aging gizmos that clog our living 
rooms. We're the slowpokes who pro- 
long the switch from one media 
format to another. 

So why do we take so 
^ — s long? Switching from 

one media format to the 
next involves much more 
than buying a new player. We 
have to go back and convert our collections 
of music or videos, and most computers 
don't have the appropriate equipment for 
this conversion. Faced with the prospect of 
buying and installing a device just to convert 
VHS tapes to DVDs, 
most of us say, "Eh, 
the VCR doesn't re- 
ally take up that 
much room." 

But there are those 
of us who want to make the switch, so I 
poked around for an easy-to-use, easy-to- 
install video capture card, a device that lets 
you connect your VCR to your computer. 
Some manufacturers offer USB capture de- 
vices that sit outside your computer, but I 
passed over these because I wanted to re- 
duce electronic clutter. Instead, I settled on 
the Turtle Beach Video Advantage PCI 
(, which sits in your 
computer. At $169.95, the device isn't 
cheap, but it includes all the software you 
need to capture, edit, and burn your videos 
to a disc. It supports digital camcorders and 
VHS, S-VHS, and Hi-8 formats. 


The Video Advantage plugs into a PC's 
PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) 

slot, which is inside the system, near the back 
of the case. Installation was a snap: I pulled 
off my test system's side panel and pushed 
the card gently into an empty slot. Next, I in- 
stalled the other half of the package: the front 
panel extension bracket. This bracket sits in 
the same type of 5.25-inch slot that your 
DVD drive occupies and connects to the PCI 
card via some included cables. I plugged the 
VCR into the extension bracket's input ports 
via the same Composite Video cable that 
normally connects the VCR to the television. 

Turtle Beach offers a similar, less expen- 
sive package (Video Advantage ADX; 
$129.95) that lacks the front bracket and 
some of the software, but if you can swing 
the extra $40, you won't be disappointed. It 
has the same video input ports as the PCI 
card, which means you can lug your VCR 
over to the system, plug it in, record the 
video, and return the VCR to its normal lo- 
cation without moving your PC. If you tuck 
the PC under your desk, you'll really appre- 
ciate that bracket. 


I'm no movie-editing expert, but I got 
along famously with the included software. 
I used AD FullCap to capture home video 
from a VHS tape and then imported it to 
CyberLink PowerDirector, which let me 
edit the movie. It displayed frames in a 
timeline at the bottom of the interface that 
let me keep track of clips and effects. Be- 
tween the two programs, users can capture 
video in three popular formats: AVI 
(Audio- Video Interleaved), DV (Digital 
Video), and MPEG (Moving Picture 
Experts Group) -2. Once you finish editing 
the movie, PowerProducer Express con- 
verts your movie to MPEG-2 (if it isn't al- 
ready in that format) and burns it to VCD 
(Video CD), SVCD (Super Video CD; a 
little higher quality than VCD), or DVD. 


If you've avoided converting your VHS 
tapes because you thought it would be diffi- 
cult, you're out of excuses. The Video 
Advantage PCI makes analog- to- digital 
conversion painless. II 

16 July 2005 / 

Tech Diaries 

Big, Beautiful & 

chad Demon WinBook PowerSpec LC30D 

Send Chad your opinions at 

PowerSpec LC30D 




Televisions have come a long way from 
the wood- covered boxes I remember 
from my childhood (when my sister and I 
were the only functioning remote con- 
trols). Plasma screens and LCDs (liquid- 
crystal displays) are making televisions 
sleeker and thinner. In the past these sets 
have cost thousands of dollars, but as with 
most technology, prices are coming down 
and someday soon we might all be saying 
goodbye to those boxy black sets. 

WinBook' s PowerSpec LC30D is helping 
to pave the way for budget LCDs. This 30- 
inch display is HDTV- ready, in- 
cludes component and DVI-I 
(Digital Visual Interface- Inte- 
grated) inputs, and costs just less 
than $1,000 after a $100 rebate. 
Other 30-inch sets can cost be- 
tween $1,300 and $2,000. So 
what compromises must you 
make for a $1,000 30-inch LCD? 


The LC30D sports a silver shell. 
Speakers are mounted to the left and right 
of the display. This location, however, tends 
to further elongate the widescreen display. 
This may make it difficult to fit the LC30D 
into an existing home entertainment center. 
Considering that the LC30D generates a lot of 
heat, we recommend that you don't confine it 
to an entertainment center. Remove the base 
if you prefer to mount the set on a wall. 

The remote control itself isn't overly im- 
pressive, but it's serviceable. It makes it 
easy to navigate the menu system and make 
adjustments to color and picture settings. 


Whenever I buy a new set, one of the first 
things I want to know is what kind of inputs 

it includes. The LC30D includes component, 
S-Video, composite, and coaxial inputs. All 
inputs are mounted to the back of the dis- 
play. Only one set of each input is available. 
This limits you a bit and may require a sepa- 
rate video switcher, depending on compo- 
nents and setup. 


Our standard cable connection looked 
good enough on the LC30D, but it really 
shined with higher- res video such as DVD. 
Compared to more expensive sets, the 
L30D's biggest drawback is its 25ms re- 
sponse time. Higher (meaning slower) re- 
sponse times can cause moving portions of 
a picture to blur (called ghosting). More 
expensive sets include 16ms and even 12ms 
response times. Despite its relatively high 
response time, however, we didn't notice a 
real problem with ghosting. 

The LC30D features a 15:9 aspect ratio, 
which is great for most DVD movies in 
widescreen format and some HDTV pro- 
gramming. Most standard TV broadcasts, 
however, use a 4:3 aspect ratio. The LC30D 
includes several display modes to accommo- 
date different aspect ratios. The 4:3 mode 
displays broadcast television in its native as- 
pect ratio, which leaves black bars on the left 
and right side of the set. Periscope mode ex- 
pands a 4:3 video source to fill the entire 
screen but can cause images to look stretched 
out. Full mode provided the best way to dis- 
play 4:3 video in widescreen format without 
sacrificing much in the way of picture 
quality. Finally, Zoom mode is made for 
widescreen DVDs that don't quite consume 
the entire display. Using this mode will elim- 
inate any black bars that might appear when 
watching a widescreen movie. 

Bottom Line 

Overall, the LC30D isn't a bad deal, but 
you will have to make a few compromises. 
The lack of extra inputs, especially composite 
inputs, is perhaps the biggest drawback. The 
25ms response time is also a little slow, but 
that's going to be one of the sacrifices you're 
going to have make for a budget LCD. The 
sleek design and vibrant picture help make 
up for the LC30D's minor shortcomings. II 

Smart Computing / July 2005 17 

Tech Diaries 

Phantom Photos 

Photo-Restoration Software Saved Christmas 

Kylee Dickey 1 

Send your comments to 

still remember the moment that led me 
away from film photography and toward 
digital photography. I made a trip to 
Ulbrick's, my late grandma's favorite 
small-town restaurant. The decades-old, 
fried-chicken-to-die-for cafe would close 
in a couple of days, with the historic 
building set for demolition within the 
week. Ulbrick's had a real place in my 
heart, but I had no photos of it. On my 
last trip there, I brought my 35mm film 
camera and photographed the interior 
and exterior of the building. I even had 
my photo taken behind the counter where 
Grandma had paid for many meals over 
the years. 

A few weeks later, I finished the roll 
and took it in for prints. I returned to the 
shop to find only a single blurry snapshot 
of a goldfish. The employee at the photo 
shop said the film was damaged and that 
the technician couldn't rescue any other 
photos. I was heartbroken. Ulbrick's had 
already been demolished and replaced 
with a dollar store. It was at that moment 
that I decided I would buy a digital 
camera as soon as prices came down. I 
wanted to see my photos on the LCD 
(liquid-crystal display) immediately. 
Never again did I want the shock of 
learning that none of my photos turned 
out. When I finally got my digital camera, 
it was everything I expected. At least it 
was until late last December. 

Digital Disaster 

A couple of days after Christmas, I sat 
down at my computer with more than 
700MB of holiday photos, all stored on CF 
(CompactFlash) cards. I inserted the first 
card in my card reader. My computer 
couldn't read it. I tried the second card. 
This card appeared in Windows Explorer, 
but I couldn't open the files, and the file 
names were all garbled. In a panic I tried 
the third CF card. It was also unusable. I 

had flashbacks to my lost roll of Ulbrick's 
photos. Surely, I hadn't lost more than 
700MB of holiday photos! 

Once I calmed down and stopped 
cursing at my beloved digital camera, I re- 
searched image- rescue software online. I 
found many programs that can restore cor- 
rupted or accidentally deleted photos from 
memory cards. Two of the most popular 
are Lexar Media's Image Rescue 2 ($28; and DataRescue's 
PhotoRescue Wizard 2 ($29; www. data I chose PhotoRescue Wizard 
because a free downloadable demo lets you 
view thumbnails of each rescued image. 
You must then buy the license in order to 
save the full- sized rescued photos to your 
hard drive. 

Even when my computer couldn't read a 
CF card, PhotoRescue Wizard did. It ran a 
series of 12 algorithms on the corrupted 
data on each of my cards. This takes a con- 
siderable amount of time, so it's important 
to use a card reader rather than connecting 
your digicam to your PC. The camera bat- 
tery would likely die before the image 
restoration was complete. When the soft- 
ware completed its restoration algorithms, I 
saw hundreds of thumbnails. Nearly all of 
my pictures were restored. 

Pixel Perfect 

If you have a digital camera, you may 
worry that image corruption could happen 
to you, too. It is a rare occurrence that you 
can usually avoid. Always wait until your 
camera's card-access light stops blinking 
before shutting your camera off or opening 
the memory-card or battery door. Also, 
when your battery gets low, replace it im- 
mediately. Corruption often occurs if the 
power shuts off while the camera is writing 
data to a card. In my case my camera's logic 
board had failed. I had it replaced under 
warranty, and a couple of weeks later, I was 
shooting photos again. 

I can't claim that digital cameras are 
perfect. However, whereas my damaged 
35mm film was virtually worthless, a cor- 
rupted memory card often holds enough 
data for the right software to rescue trea- 
sured photos. II 

18 July 2005 / 

Nero PhotoShow Elite 

Treasure your unforgettable moments with Nero PhotoShow Elite, the easy and com- 
plete photo experience. Capture, organize, manage and edit your photos. Make 
musical photo slideshows with multiple effects, Clip Art, captions and text. Share with 
your family and friends online or burn CDs or VCDs. Order custom photo accessories 
of your favorite photos. All this with unprecedented ease! 


Available online or at the participating retailers: 


Tech Diaries 

Compact Clash 

Super-Small 5MP Digicams Collide 

Nathan Chandler 

Send insights and insults 

to Nathan at 

PowerShot SD20 





www. powers h 

Exilim EX-Z55 



(800) 836-8580 


If a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera is 
photography's version of a bazooka, super- 
tiny and super-high-resolution compact 
cameras are slick 9 -millimeter handguns. In 
other words, size is deceiving — although 
compact digicams might be small, they pack 
plenty of shooting power. 

I tested two ultra-small 5MP (megapixel) 
cameras with identical street prices to judge 
the differences in image quality and perfor- 
mance. What I found was that 
you definitely do not always 
get what you pay for. 

Canon's Shot 

Canon's PowerShot SD20 is 
so compact that you might 
have a hard time believing 
it has a 5MP sensor under 
the hood. If anything, the SD20 resembles 
an oversized Zippo, with a glossy finish 
that comes in four colors (gray, blue, 
red, and silver), a tip-off for the fashion- 
conscious Canon is targeting with this model. 

The SD20's spec sheet is impressive. It 
uses the company's DIGIC image processor 
that's proved its worth in other Canon 
models, a 1.5-inch color LCD (liquid- crystal 
display), and nine-point auto- 
focus to help ensure sharp im- 
ages. There's a movie mode 
equipped with a microphone 
and a speaker to make video 
playback more fun. There is no 
optical zoom on the tiny SD20. 
Instead, Canon substituted 
6.5X digital zoom. 

Operation was relatively 
simple, as the camera has only 
five buttons and a four- way 
controller. Auto mode made for point-and- 
shoot operation, but I engaged a manual fea- 
ture that let me take more control of options. 

Omitting an optical zoom lens helped 
speed up the camera's operation; it was 
ready for shooting in only two seconds. In 

scenes with good lighting, the SD20 focused 
within two seconds, and shot-to-shot delays 
were short, even when I used the flash. 

The images from the SD20 were colorful 
and sharp. I noticed some curvature around 
the edges of some photos, and when I mag- 
nified them, I saw purple fringing around 
bright objects, a flaw that won't bother you 
unless you plan on making enlargements. 
But those vulnerabilities, and more, were 
exposed by the other camera I reviewed. 

One Slim Exilim 

Casio's Exilim EX-Z55 is only half an 
inch taller than the SD20, but it comes with 
a large helping of manual features lacking 
in the Canon. Also, in stark contrast to the 
SD20, the EX-Z55 also has a 3X optical 
zoom lens and an optical viewfinder. 

One of this Casio's most noticeable fea- 
tures is its 2.5-inch display that consumes 
most of the camera's back side. It comes with 
a lithium-ion battery pack, 9.3MB of internal 
memory, a slot that accommodates an SD 
(Secure Digital) or MMC (MultiMedia- 
Card), and a speaker and microphone for 
engaging video or plain audio clips. 

Novice users will like the fact that this 
camera has 22 preset scene modes and a 
fully automatic system. Advanced users and 
button twiddlers will like that they can alter 
or customize just about every setting on the 
EX-Z55, from color saturation to exposure, 
sharpness, flash intensity, and much more. 

The LCD was huge and colorful, but occa- 
sionally the colors were washed out or dingy. 
However, image color and exposure were ac- 
curate in most conditions, and although I 
did notice some yellowing on indoor shots 
when I used the automatic white balance, 
using the custom white balance mode fixed 
this problem. Performance speed was gener- 
ally zippy, and only in the sluggish playback 
mode did I become frustrated. 

Clear Choice 

Even though these cameras are almost 
exactly the same size, they have almost 
nothing in common, with the Casio being 
far superior. The EX-Z55 had a more im- 
pressive spec sheet, and its image quality 
and performance were superior, too. II 

20 July 2005 / 


Security Suites 

Line Of Defense 

Protect Your System With Internet Security Suites 

Buying Tips 

Make it a foursome. If you 

can't afford a suite, invest in a 

quality antivirus utility that 

you can partner with a free 

firewall such as ZoneAlarm 

Personal Firewall (, a free anti-spyware 

utility such as Ad-aware SE 

Personal (, 

and the free (or inexpensive) 

antispam filter offered by your 

ISP (Internet service provider) 

or Web-based email provider. 

These days, Internet security seems to 
focus primarily on spyware and adware. 
And well it should. A recent SpyAudit report 
conducted by Earthlink and Webroot Soft- 
ware showed that spyware and adware inci- 
dents grew by 230% during 2004. That's why 
every computer user needs an anti-spyware 
utility such as Ad-aware SE Personal (free; or Spybot Search & 
Destroy (free; 

But spyware and adware represent just 
one type of security threat. Viruses, crackers, 
and spam continue to pose a serious risk to 
any Internet-connected PC. The SpyAudit 
report showed a 114% increase in Trojan 
horses during the fourth quarter of 2004, for 
instance, and a study released by Symantec 
revealed a 64% increase in worms and 
viruses during the second half of 2004. That's 
why every user also needs an antivirus utility, 
a firewall, and an antispam filter. 

But why purchase these products sepa- 
rately when you can get all of them and more 
as part of an Internet security suite? Several 
reputable products are currently available, 
including those we reviewed this month. 

Panda Platinum Internet Security 2005 

Among the up-and-coming contenders in 
the Internet security market is Panda Soft- 
ware, a Spanish outfit with an established 
international reputation for protecting enter- 
prise-wide networks from online threats. 
Platinum Internet Security 2005, its best con- 
sumer effort to date, consists of a solid col- 
lection of utilities in a streamlined interface. 

The suite is built around an antivirus 
component that, thanks to automatic daily 
signature updates and its proprietary Tru- 
Prevent technology, is capable of proactively 
identifying and eradicating practically any 
piece of contagious malware (malicious soft- 
ware) that comes in contact with your PC. 
It scans incoming and outgoing email and 

instant messages for the presence of viruses, 
Trojan horses, and spyware, among other 
things. It also maintains a constant watch for 
dialer programs, which can commandeer a 
modem and dial pricey pay-by-the-minute 
toll phone numbers. The antivirus compo- 
nent employs Panda's proprietary UltraFast 
scan engine for quick, efficient searches. The 
utility scanned 162,311 files in an impressive 
14 minutes and 20 seconds. 

Backing up the antivirus component is a 
trio of anti- intrusion tools designed to stop 
the flow of unwanted code into your system. 
An antispam component keeps unsolicited 
messages out of your email inbox, for in- 
stance, while the antiphishing component 
watches your email connection for incoming 
messages that link to fraudulent Web sites. 
And a firewall component monitors in- 
coming and outgoing traffic to ensure that 
only authorized programs are sending and 
receiving messages. Rounding out the suite is 
an optional content filter that lets you restrict 
access to sites that contain offensive content. 

There were a few trouble spots, though. 
The first struck shortly after installing the 
suite when Internet Explorer began freneti- 
cally opening one browser window after an- 
other. A hard reboot resolved that issue. We 
also noticed a significant decline in overall 
system performance, especially in the first 
three minutes following each boot. Nothing 
we tried could fix that problem. In addition, 
Panda Platinum Internet Security 2005 is the 
most expensive suite we reviewed. In return, 
users get a relative deal on technical support: 
Phone calls of three minutes or less are free, 
and longer calls are assessed at a rate of $25 
per incident. But because Panda Software 
provides only a toll phone number, you may 
need to pay long-distance charges. 

ZoneAlarm Security Suite 

Unlike most companies that specialize in 
Internet security, Zone Labs stakes its repu- 
tation on a firewall rather than an antivirus 
utility. And why not? The company long ago 
proved its commitment to consumers by of- 
fering its venerable ZoneAlarm firewall as 
freeware to home users and nonprofit orga- 
nizations. By adding antivirus capabilities 
and privacy protection, Zone Labs has pro- 
duced a relatively inexpensive security suite 
that is among the easiest to use. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 21 




Buying Tips 

Pay ahead. You know you 

need protection, so why not 

buy it in advance? You'll get 

a better deal from Panda 

Software and Zone Labs if you 

prepay for a two-year license. 

We liked ZoneAlarm Security Suite from 
the start. Installation is effortless, and our PC 
ran just as well after the installation as it did 
before, which is saying a lot. You can tell the 
suite is working by the unending barrage of 
pop-up messages asking you whether this or 
that program should be allowed to access the 
Internet. Fortunately, these prompts become 
less of a nuisance as ZoneAlarm learns your 
computing habits. 

Zone Labs organizes the suite's capabilities 
into nine components that work together to 
detect viruses and other malicious code; 
identify unauthorized intruders; spot un- 
usual incoming or outgoing transmissions; 
and maintain a constant lookout for spy- 
ware, cookies, phishing email, spam, and 
spim (unsolicited instant messages). You 
also can create a scanning schedule, clean out 
caches, look for cookies, and block offensive 
or nuisance content. We especially liked the 
ID Lock feature, which ensures that your 
personal information, including credit card 

and Social Security numbers, never leaves 
your PC unless you approve. 

As with other suites, ZoneAlarm Security 
Suite comes with minimal documentation 
and expensive phone-based support options. 
Fortunately, the program is so easy to use 
that it's unlikely you'll need either. 

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2005 

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2005 is not 
so much a suite as multiproduct packaging. 
Three of its four components — VirusScan, 
Personal Firewall Plus, and SpamKiller — are 
distributed by McAfee as standalone prod- 
ucts, and the fourth component functions as 
if it were one, as well. 

It all starts with VirusScan, which finds 
and destroys viruses, worms, Trojan horses, 
spyware, and dialers contaminating your 
system. Like most security suites, it uses 
a signature database, as well as heuristic 
(involving trial- and- error problem-solving 
techniques rather than static algorithmic 

Software Information 



Contact Information 


Panda Platinum $49.95 (six months*) 

Internet Security $79.95 (one year*) 

2005 $ 1 35 . 95 (two years*) 

(*for services such as updates, virus alerts, and tech support via 

Panda Software 

email and the Internet) 


ZoneAlarm $69.95 (one year of updates) 
Security Suite $94.90 (two years of updates) 

Zone Labs 

(877) 966-5221 

McAfee Internet $79.99 (box) 
Security Suite 2005 $69.99 (download) 



Norton Internet $49.95 
Security 2005 




Performance Ease Of Use Installation Support 


Overall Score 


Panda Platinum 4 
Internet Security 2005 

ZoneAlarm 4 
Security Suite 

McAfee Internet 4 
Security Suite 2005 

Norton Internet 4 
Security 2005 


3 4 

5 3 
5 3 
3 4 






22 July 2005 / 


}=*■■ ^ Symantec- 

.— _=?E] 

internet Security 

Buying Tips 

Read the fine print. Watch for 
hidden charges when down- 
loading your suite. McAfee, for 
example, automatically 
tacks on a $7.99 fee for an 
"extended download" option. 
And Symantec charges an 
extra $9.95 for a backup CD. 
Don't pay for these extras 
unless you really want them. 

formulas) technology to weed out emerging 
threats. Scanning is very slow, though. We 
had to wait more than 27.5 minutes for 
VirusScan to check 50,447 files. 

Speed isn't an issue when using Personal 
Firewall Plus, SpamKiller, or Privacy 
Services. The firewall adequately monitored 
the Internet connection without disrupting 
our surfing experience, and SpamKiller 
seemed to do as good a job as any other 
spam blocker, which is to say it stopped 
many, but not all, unsolicited messages. 

Privacy Services is an excellent addition to 
the other components, functioning as a pop- 
up ad blocker, a content and cookie filter, a 
shredding utility for deleting sensitive data, 
and a personal information blocker that pre- 
vents you from unwittingly transmitting per- 
sonal information across the Internet. 

The weakest part of the suite is the point at 
which the four components converge. Called 
Security Center, this control panel provides 
one-click access to the major functions of the 
suite components. It's certainly intuitive but 
also largely irrelevant, considering you can 
access many of the same functions from 
within the components themselves. 

But that's just one gripe. Another is the 
cost of phone-based tech support, which is 
priced at $39 per incident or $2.95 per 
minute (though the first two minutes are 
free). Individuals who pony up for the boxed 
version receive a hardcopy of the users 
manual for free. Individuals who download 
the suite save $10 but must get their how-to 
info from the McAfee Web site. 

Norton Internet Security 2005 

Protection starts with virus control, and 
that's something Symantec knows plenty 
about. It built the latest version of Norton 
Internet Security around its ever-popular 
Norton Antivirus utility, which always ranks 
among the top antivirus products on the 
market, protecting your system 
from all types of malicious code. 

The suite's other primary compo- 
nents include Norton Personal Fire- 
wall and Norton AntiSpam. The 
firewall stops unauthorized trans- 
missions from entering or leaving 
your system, and AntiSpam blocks 
unsolicited email and pop-up ads 
from infiltrating your PC. The suite 

also features Privacy Control and Parental 
Control, which you can customize to block 
cookies, scripts, ActiveX controls, Java ap- 
plets, and offensive Web content. 

Holding all of the components together is 
the Norton Internet Security control panel, 
an awkward assembly of hidden menus and 
layers of pop-up boxes. Symantec should 
consider giving this product a facelift. It also 
has to do something about the updates. In 
order to use the suite for the first time, we 
waited 14 minutes while product updates 
downloaded via our DSL (Digital Subscriber 
Line) connection (and this wait will be even 
longer for dial-up users). We also experi- 
enced a noticeable decline in overall system 
performance. Norton Internet Security is a 
robust product that offers comprehensive 
protection, but it just can't compete with the 
other products featured in this roundup. 

The Safest Choice 

Each of the major security suites featured 
here offers proactive virus protection, an 
effective firewall, and a serviceable spam 
filter. It's the way in which they present 
themselves that makes the difference. Zone- 
Alarm Security Suite earned our Smart 
Choice designation because it was easy to 
use, offered an abundance of features, had no 
noticeable effect on system performance, and 
was the cheapest of the bunch. 

Even so, the most important thing to re- 
member is that you should invest in some 
type of protective software, use it properly 
and keep it up to date, and augment it with 
prudent computing practices, such as down- 
loading only what you need and turning off 
your Internet connection when you're away 
from your PC. Doing so will keep your com- 
puter safe from harm. II 

by Jeff Dodd 



»& r 


July 2005 

Smart Choice 

ZoneAIarm Security Suite 

Smart Computing / July 2005 23 

Software Reviews 


The Definitive Messenger? 

MSN Messenger 7 



(800) 642-7676 

ftlSfl) Messenger 


Performance 4 
Ease Of Use 4 
Installation 5 
Documentation 5 
Price 5 
Overall 4.6/5 

MSN Messenger 7, which was released in 
April, is the most comprehensive, fea- 
ture-rich version of Microsoft's instant mes- 
saging client to date. However, many of the 
new features are minor additions to the pre- 
viously released, all-powerful Messenger 6. 

New On The Scene 

A handful of Messenger 7's new features 
are interesting and potentially useful. Others 
are mostly annoying. 
The good news is 
that you can ignore 
the annoying features 
or turn them off. 
In the useful cate- 
gory is the integrated Search feature, which 
lets a user perform a keyword search — and 
share those results with a chat partner — from 
inside Messenger 7. 

Two less valuable, but still fun, features 
are Personal Messages and Dynamic Display 
Pictures. With Personal Messages, you can 
add a favorite quote or comment that will 
appear just under your nickname in the 
main contact window, further sharing your 
personality with your audience. Personal 
Messages has a second option that lets you 
tell buddies what music you are currently 
playing (you'll need to download a plug- in 
to access this capability). 

With Dynamic Display Pictures, Messenger 
7 automatically triggers the display of an 
image depicting your mood whenever you use 
a related emoticon. 

A third new feature, Handwrite, borders on 
the inane. With this function, you can write 
rather than type messages in the IM Window. 
Unless you are very skilled drawing with a 
mouse or have a Tablet PC, your efforts will 
likely be clumsy and probably illegible. 

The two most objectionable new fea- 
tures are Wink and Nudge. Winks are audible 
Flash animations that pop up in a recipient's 
IM window. Presumably, Microsoft intended 
them to be a cute way of saying "Hi!," but 
most users say they are a needless distraction. 

Users report dissatisfaction with the Nudge 
feature, which Messenger's designers added so 

users could jolt their audience into action. 
When you send a Nudge, the screen of the re- 
cipient vibrates and goes fuzzy. If you send a 
Nudge when someone is away from her com- 
puter, it waits for her return. Both of these bits 
of trickery are worthless bandwidth hogs that 
should die a quiet death. 

Multimedia Magic 

Like the previous release, Messenger 7 has 
audio and video capabilities, but there is no 
groundbreaking new feature in this area. If 
you have a microphone and speakers, you 
can chat with your buddies in real-time 
audio. If you have a Webcam, you can send 
its video feed to your buddies. 

Still present from Messenger 6 are the 
photo-sharing feature, the whiteboarding 
feature (which lets you and your buddies 
make sketches that each can see), and the 
application- sharing utility (which lets your 
chat buddies view and control an open pro- 
gram on your PC). 

Interface Enhancements 

Messenger 7 updated (some will say clut- 
tered) the interface. At the top of the chat 
window are buttons for Winks, Nudges, and 
Packs. There is also a large Search button be- 
neath the familiar Send button. At the bottom 
right are two small buttons that let you toggle 
between typing and handwriting mode. 

Microsoft also tweaked the emoticons dis- 
play in Messenger 7, letting you see (in full 
view) all emoticons and their shortcuts. A 
handful of other tweaks, such as mouseover 
effects and subtle icon adjustments, add up to 
a slick interface that IM junkies may love. Still 
present from Messenger 6.2 are the abilities to 
substitute an image in place of a standard 
buddy icon for your profile picture and to se- 
lect and share custom backgrounds. 

Messenger 7 isn't a must-have upgrade, 
and purists who like a simple interface may 
find Messenger 7 busy and bloated. Never- 
theless, it is powerful and easy to use. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 

24 July 2005 / 

Software Reviews 





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Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 3 
Installation 5 
Documentation 3 
Price 5 
Overall 4.2/5 

PC Troubleshooter 

Spyware, Trojans, and 
other malware are no- 
toriously difficult to iden- 
tify and fully eradicate. If 
you suspect something is 
tampering with your com- 
puter's operation, you 
may benefit from Hijack- 
This, a miniscule down- 
load that identifies and 
potentially eradicates PC invaders. 

HijackThis scans vulnerable areas of your 
system, such as commonly modified Win- 
dows Registry keys, and creates a log of their 
contents. The log lists both useful, pur- 
poseful customizations and insidious inva- 
sions, and it's up to you to determine which 
is which. You can instruct HijackThis to re- 
move anything you identify as unwanted or 
erroneous additions. 

HijackThis is not a tool to be taken lightly: 
If you remove needed Registry entries and 
other system elements, you can render your 
system inoperable. Consequently, HijackThis 

is beneficial to beginner and 
intermediate users mainly 
as an identification tool. 

If you have reason to be- 
lieve a particular invader 
has attacked your PC, and 
you have obtained specific 
information on the changes 
it makes, you can use Hi- 
jackThis to confirm your 
diagnosis. (You should then obtain and 
follow eradication instructions from a 
known intrusion-detection vendor such as 
McAfee or Panda.) 

In addition, if you cannot figure out what is 
wrong with your PC, a HijackThis log can be 
very useful to advanced users on forums and 
support sites who are trying to identify your 
problems. Then, if someone you trust in- 
structs you to remove an entry using 
HijackThis, you can make a system check- 
point or backup and proceed with caution. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 


Replay Radio internet Radio Your Way 


Applian Technologies 

Support email: www.replay- 




Replay Radio *° 








Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 4 
Installation 5 
Documentation 5 
Price 5 
Overall 4.8/5 

f you are a fan of radio — even if you have 

never explored the medium online — you 
may enjoy Replay Radio. This easy-to-use app 
lets you tune in to thousands of Internet radio 
stations. Listen to them in real-time or record 
them for replay. 

Replay Radio comes with a built-in list of 
over 1,300 Internet radio stations and nearly 
1,000 programs. Optionally, you can pro- 
vide the URL (uniform resource locator) of 
your favorite Internet radio station. Replay 
Radio offers a playlist feature that lets you 
maintain a list of shows you want to record, 
as well as those you want to skip, and you 
can instruct Replay to record something on 
a one-time or repeat basis. 

Choose your preferred recording format — 
MP3, WAV, or audio CD— and adjust the 
MP3 quality settings for smallest file size (AM 
quality) or best fidelity (CD quality). FM 
quality is a halfway point. Once you make a 
recording, it works just like any other audio 
file. Replay it using any compatible player, or 

transfer it to your iPod, MP3 player, or MP3- 
compatible PocketPC or Palm handheld. You 
can configure Replay Radio to record a 
streaming feed to an MP3 or audio CD. 

Replay Radio will only let you capture one 
program at a time, but you can schedule a list 
of programs in advance. You can also listen 
to your favorite station or program while you 
work and then use the Quick Record button 
if you decide to capture something on the fly. 

Replay Radio has some nice advanced fea- 
tures, such as the ability to eliminate dead 
air or to split tracks at regular intervals. 

Because Replay Radio is a streaming media 
recorder, you can capture any feed for which 
you have a player. Configuring Replay Radio 
to work with nonstandard configurations can 
be problematic, but the manufacturer's Web 
site offers FAQs on the topic. Additionally, 
Applian offers a free driver that facilitates 
recording with certain sound cards. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 

Smart Computing / July 2005 25 

FROM arhe 

Micra 6 



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hide, providing deep rich bass to shake your soul. Come hear what all the critics have 
been raving about, the tiny Micra 6 from athena TECHNOLOGIES. 
Add a little soul to your system. 




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Australia I Audio Products Pty Ltd, Unil 

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Defining Sound I 

InhuiMvely Designed. 



Compiled by Joshua Gulick 


Cool Stuff For $25 Or Less 

See it, like it, buy it. 

Impulse Items are 

products that 

quicken your pulse 

and capture your 

attention but won't 

make you dig too 

deep into your 

wallet. Check these 

pages each month 

for the latest 

interesting and 


computing items 

we've run across. 

Black Hole Organizer 3 

When writers have nightmares, they gen- 
erally involve important notes hiding in a 
hard drive's maze of folders. We suspect 
we're not the only people who fear lost 
documents. If you have trouble keeping 
track of your notes, take a look at Lincoln 
Beach's Black Hole Organizer (www.lin, which is a text editor 
similar to Microsoft Notepad. As with 
Notepad, the program has some basic 
text editor features (you can change fonts 
and type sizes), but it also supports ad- 
vanced goodies, such as tables. It doesn't 
organize other documents, but a window 
that sits in the text editor lets you sort 
your Black Hole documents. Thus, you 
might use it to keep track of spur-of-the- 
moment notes. A search feature scours all 
documents in your Black Hole database, 
which lets you find notes, even if you 
don't know which folder contains it. Try it 
free for 25 days or buy it for $24.95. 

Dot Com Pen & Stand 

The horrors of the bursting dot-com bubble have long 
since passed, and entrepreneurs are again starting 
technology-based businesses. If your family boasts one 
of these adventurous people, give her Bytes 'n Grins 
Dot Com Pen & Stand ( 
The silver-plated stand is heavy, which means you can 
use it as a paperweight in a pinch. The refillable pen 
(which is also silver-plated) stands in the dot. Buy this 
stylish desk accessory for $18.95. 


Sure, we're used to tangled cables under 
our desks and behind our televisions, 
but cable rat nests on our car seats and 
in our gym bag? As we buy more 
portable electronics, we're collecting 
more cords. We need something that 
can stop the madness: We suspect that 
Bluetooth and other wireless standards 
will do the trick, but until most manu- 
facturers catch onto the wireless craze, 
cableyoyo ($4.95; 
has the answer. Simply wrap your cable 
around the spool at the center of this 
flat, square device, and your cable is 
pocketable. You can also use the cable- 
yoyo to hide excess cable lengths by 
attaching it to the wall or bottom of 
your desk. 

28 July 2005 / 


Web pages are unwieldy creatures that 
rarely fit inside your browser window; 
often house tiny, hard-to-read text; and 
ooze onto multiple pages when printed. 
Jafasoft's PrintPunk (www.printpunk 
.com) keeps Web pages in line, whether 
they're on your screen or sliding out 
your printer. The plug-in, which adds 
a toolbar to your Internet Explorer 
browser, can shrink a large Web page so 
that it fits a single printed page. (No 
more second pages that have two lines 
of text.) It also has some handy browser 
features, such as Auto Fit, which fits the 
Web page to your browser window left 
to right, and (this is probably the best 
part) a Zoom button that magnifies 
the Web page (and its text). Try 
PrintPunk free for 30 days or buy it 
for $19.95. PrintPunk supports 
Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/2003. 

"Fun With Photoshop 
Elements 3" 

Adobe's Photoshop Elements ($99.99; lets home users take 
advantage of Photoshop's picture-editing 
power. You can touch up red eyes, 
brighten dark pictures, and add special 
effects, or you can go picture crazy. With 
"Fun With Photoshop Elements 3: Foto- 
Fakery For Everyone" (wwwquepublish, Rhoda Grossman shows you 
simple touch-up techniques and then 
takes you into the wacky world of 
Photoshop Elements' neatest tricks. 
You'll learn to mix and match pictures 
(the lizard sandwich is our favorite), add 
captions, swap faces, and drastically 
change objects. (One project shows how 
to turn a picture of a new house into an 
image of a dilapidated house.) Buy the 
book (Photoshop Elements isn't includ- 
ed, of course) for $24.99. 

Volume Logic 1.2 

If you want to spice up your favorite 
digital music player software, add a 
plug-in that automatically remasters 
your digital music playlist as you listen 
to it. Plantronics Octiv's Volume Logic 
(, which has a small GUI 
(graphical user interface) that opens 
when your music player starts, lets you 
manually adjust the bass output. But 
before you adjust the bass, you'll want 
to select your audio Genre. The pro- 
gram has a variety of categories, includ- 
ing Acoustic, Classical, Lounge, Piano, 
and Rock, each of which adjusts the vol- 
ume dynamics to change the way your 
player plays the songs. Octiv offers 
Volume Logic plug-ins for several play- 
ers, including iTunes (, 
Musicmatch Jukebox (www.musicmatch 
.com), RealPlayer (, 
and Windows Media Player (www.micro Try it free for 30 days or buy 
it for 19.95. 

Universal Memory Drive 

Remember how proud you were when you switched from floppy disks to higher- 
capacity flash storage cards, such as MMCs (MultiMediaCards) and Sony's 
MemoryStick? Well, we were right there with you, but we're having some regrets. 
Sure, the floppy held a mere 1.44MB of data, but you could count on almost any 
computer having a floppy drive. Nowadays, you're lucky if you can find a comput- 
er that has a media reader. The good news is that IOGEAR ( 
offers a little gadget that lets you plug your MMC or SD (Secure Digital) card into 
any computer that has a USB port. Just plug your card into lOGEAR's Universal 
Memory Drive GFR202SD ($14.95) and then plug that into the USB port. 

Smart Computing /July 2005 29 

Simple Web Publishing 
With Web Folders 

What is the address of this network place? 

ss of the Web site. FTP site. :r ner : ritcut will open. 

7 ■. :."-, address: 

|http:. ; . www scspicchic 
:e examples . 

If you know the URL 

(uniform resource locator), 

username, and password 

required to access your 

Web space, the Add 

Network Place Wizard 

can guide you through 

the process of creating 

a Web folder. 

If you have an email account, 
you almost certainly also have 
a personal Web space, or URL 
(uniform resource locator), where 
you can load a personal Web 
page. In fact, your ISP (Inter- 
net service provider) probably 
provides tools you can use to de- 
sign and upload your personal 
Web page. 

But your Web space has many 
other uses. Even if you don't 
have a Web page, you could use 
your Web space for storing pic- 
tures for others to see. Or you 
could upload documents to your Web space and 
email links to those documents instead of 
weighing down your emails with hefty attach- 
ments. Another option is to use your Web space 
as universally accessible 
file storage — that is, as a 
;l place to save your most 
important files so that 
you can get to those files 
from any computer with a 
Web connection. 

To get these files on- 
line, you could download 
one of the many free FTP 
(File Transfer Protocol) 
programs available on 
the Web. But a simpler 
way is to use a Web fold- 
er, which you can create 
using Windows XP's Add 
Network Place Wizard. 

Make Your Web Folder 

A Web folder lets you work with the files in your 
Web space in the same way you work with files on 
your computer. For example, if you want to view 
the files in your Web space, you simply open the 
Web folder; if you want to upload a file to your 
Web space, you simply drag it to your Web folder. 

To create a Web folder, first assemble the infor- 
mation you need to access your Web space — the 

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copy files to the folder without 
opening My Network Places. 



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address or URL for your space 
(for example, http://www.your or ftp://provider.your, your username, and 
your password. Go to Start and 
choose My Network Places. In the 
left side of the dialog box, click 
Add A Network Place. The Add 
Network Place Wizard appears. 
Click Next. Under Service Pro- 
viders, select Choose Another Net- 
work Location and click Next. 
In the Internet Or Network Ad- 
dress box, enter the full URL for 
your space on the Web, includ- 
ing the http:// or ftp:// prefix as specified by 
your ISP. 

Click Next, and the Connect dialog box ap- 
pears. (If your Web space URL is an FTP ad- 
dress, you may first have to verify that your 
connection uses anonymous FTP.) Enter your 
username and password in the spaces provided 
and uncheck Remember My Password. This is 
for security. Don't make it that much easier for 
a virus to get to your Web space. You'll be re- 
turned to the wizard, where you'll be asked to 
name your network place. Enter a name (such as 
your URL) and click Next. Uncheck Open This 
Network Place When I Click Finish (just for 
the purposes of this demonstration) and 
click Finish. 

When you return to your My Network Places 
folder, you'll see a folder for your new network 
place. Double-click your new Web folder to 
open it. If you have an always-on broadband 
connection to the Internet, you'll go directly to 
your folder (because you've already established 
a connection while creating the file; in the fu- 
ture you'll have to re-enter your username 
and password). If you have a dial-up connec- 
tion, you'll first be prompted to connect to 
the Internet. 

Then, your open Web folder will appear. If 
you don't have any files stored in your Web 
space, you'll see whatever housekeeping folders 
your ISP provides (examples might be folders 
named Images or Cgi-bin). If you have files 

30 July 2005 / 


File Edit View Favorites Tools Help 

J & 

Address |*-J My Network Places 

Network Tasks * 


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View network connections 


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office network 


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[Jj Desktop 

| My Computer 

iP\ My Documents 

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stored on your Web site, 
you'll see those files listed 
just as they'd be listed in any 
other folder window. 

Copy Files To The Web 

There are a couple of ways 
to copy files to your Web 
folder and publish them 
to the Web. One, you can 
right-click the file or files 
and choose Copy. Open My 
Network Places (if you're 
working in a folder window, 
you can click My Network 
Places under Other Places), 
open your Web folder, and 
click Paste. 

An even simpler way is to drag and drop files 
to your Web folder (if you first create an easily 
accessible shortcut to your folder on your 
Desktop). Open My Network Places and, with 
the right mouse button, drag your Web folder to 
your Desktop. Release and choose Create 
Shortcut(s) Here. (You may notice that the 
shortcut has the extension .PIF, but this isn't 
important.) To publish any file to the Web, 
you can simply drag it to the folder. By default, 
Windows assumes you want to copy and not 
move the file (which means you'll retain the 
original file on your hard drive). Note that 
you can also use this shortcut to open your 
Web folder. 

If your Desktop is often cluttered with var- 
ious files and shortcuts, you may want to put a 
Web folder shortcut on your Quick Launch 
toolbar. To do so, right-click any blank area of 
the Windows Taskbar, choose Toolbars, and 
make sure Quick Launch is selected. (When you 
first display the Quick Launch toolbar, it will 
contain buttons for Microsoft Internet Explorer, 
your email program, and the Desktop.) Next, 
from My Network Places, drag your folder to 
the Quick Launch bar. Now you can open the 
Web folder by clicking this button. To copy a 
file or files to the Web folder, right-click the 
file(s), choose Copy, right- click the Web folder 
button on the Quick Launch toolbar, and click 
Paste. You can also drag a file or files onto this 
button, but you have to be precise: If you drag 
the file(s) to the left or the right of the icon, 
you'll add a file shortcut to the Quick Launch 
toolbar instead of publishing the file. 


Lo ca I Network 

_:•:,"■=-" :■■■■: 
/ Ks Pics on Firstcom 
f SharedDocs on Firstcom 

The Internet 

Once you create a Web folder, it appears 
with the other network places in your My 
Network Places applet. 

It's also worth noting that 
many programs, including 
Microsoft Office applica- 
tions, will actually let you 
save a document to a Web 
folder through the Save 
command and publish the 
document to the Web in 
the process. All you have to 
do is choose File and then 
Save As from the program's 
menu. In the left side of the 
Save As dialog box, click My 
Network Places. Double- 
click your Web folder and 
click Save. 

Caveats & Shortcomings 

You may be tempted to select a file in a 
folder window and click Publish This File To 
The Web (which you'll find under File And 
Folder Tasks). This doesn't work — the only op- 
tion you get when you select this command 
is to publish to MSN Groups. In fact, this com- 
mand seems to work 
only with online stor- 
age services, such as 
MSN or XDrive, and 
not with Web spaces. 

Also, if you ever 
used the Web Publish- 
ing Wizard with Win- 
dows 98 or Windows 
Me, you'll be disap- 
pointed to learn that 
there's no way to right- 
click a file and publish 

it to the Web via the Send To command. You 
can add your Web folder to the Send To menu, 
but once you do, you can only send files to sub- 
folders within the Web folder, which is not what 
you'll want to do in most cases. 

But you shouldn't let these shortcomings 
bother you. A Web folder is a handy thing to 
have, and you'll probably find it's a little addic- 
tive, as well. Once you have one, you're liable to 
find all kinds of reasons for moving files to your 
Web space. II 

by Mark Scapicchio 

I * j My Network Places 

-a | 

Add Network Place 
Network Set.;' . :? : 

^Entire Network 

■£ Documents on Markdesktop 

^ Ks Pics on Firstcom 

>f My Web Sites on MSN 
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r Jl 

|Adding a Network Place 

Save as type: k'ord Document 

The Save and Save As 
commands in many 
Windows applications 
let you save files directly 
to your Web folder. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 31 

Windows XP Files And Settings 
Transfer Wizard 

Which computer is this? 

N ew computer 

".'..'■.'"■■ • ■■ 
Old computer 

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. . ...':. ..: 

You need to run the FSTW 

on both computers, so the 

first step is to specify which 

PC is the new one and 

which is the old machine. 

Before you make the decision to buy a new 
computer, you'll probably spend a fair 
amount of time engaged in research such as 
checking specifications and comparing prices. But 
if a brand-new PC is intended as a replacement 
for your existing system, chances are you'll spend 
even more time and effort getting all the accumu- 
lated stuff from your old system over to your new 
one. This includes not only applications and files, 
but also all the little things you did to configure 
and customize your system. 

While reinstalling applications and backing 
up and restoring your data files are straight- 
forward enough processes, re-creating your old 
system's entire working environment (in- 
cluding all the little details you take for granted 
and may not even remember) on a new com- 
puter can be complicated and 

An excellent way to simplify 
the process is to make use of a 
feature built into Windows XP 
called the Files And Settings 
Transfer Wizard. With this 
wizard you can (mostly) auto- 
mate the process of moving 
your important files and con- 
figuration settings from your 
old workhorse to your shiny 
new WinXP machine. In order 
to use the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard, 
your new machine must have either Windows XP 
Home or Professional installed, but your old ma- 
chine can be running any prior version of 
Windows back to Windows 95 (including 
Windows NT 4.0). 

What It Does 

As its name suggests, the Files And Settings 
Transfer Wizard can transfer two kinds of data. 
For starters the FSTW will automatically transfer 
files from a number of standard Windows loca- 
tions. These include the My Documents and My 
Pictures folders, as well as Shared Documents. It 

| Cancel 

also includes the Windows Desktop (including 
the Shared Desktop), which is great for those of 
us who use the Desktop extensively for file 
storage. (You know who you are.) The FSTW will 
even move font files. 

In addition to files and folders, the FSTW can 
also move a variety of system settings. This in- 
cludes (but isn't limited to) operating system set- 
tings such as Control Panel customizations 
related to Accessibility, Display, Keyboard, 
Mouse, and Regional settings (for instance, char- 
acter sets and the format of dates, times, and cur- 
rencies) and the configuration of the Windows 
Taskbar. The FSTW can also transfer the settings 
of many built-in Windows applications (such as 
Internet Explorer security configurations and 
Favorites lists or your Outlook Express data), as 
well as those of any Microsoft Office application. 

If there are some things on your old computer 
you'd just as soon leave behind, you'll be glad to 
know that the FSTW gives you control over what 
gets moved and what doesn't. You can configure 
the FSTW to transfer only files, only settings, or 
both, and any of these three options will transfer a 
list of default items. If the defaults are too inclu- 
sive (or not inclusive enough), however, you can 
instead choose to add to or remove from the de- 
faults to create your own customized list. 

What It Doesn't Do 

The FSTW can be a big time-saver when get- 
ting a new PC up and running, but before getting 
started, it pays to be aware of several limita- 
tions — because even as useful as it is, the FSTW 
can't quite do everything. 

For example, the FSTW can transfer the set- 
tings for many applications (including a limited 
number of non-Microsoft applications), but it 
will not install the actual programs on the new 
system. Therefore, you should check to make sure 
you have the original installation CDs for all your 
critical software and install these programs 
on your new machine before running the FSTW. 
(If it's older software, you may also need to first 

32 July 2005 / 

verify its compatibility with 

The FSTW also won't 
transfer passwords for ob- 
vious security reasons. So 
if you have password- 
protected files, you'll need 
to re-enter any appropriate 
passwords at least once on 
your new machine. This is 
true even if your old com- 
puter is set to remember 
passwords so you don't 
have to type them repeat- 
edly. Another password 

Select custom files and settings. 

....'.: ...... . .... ■ .:..... :■:•■..' . : 

click Remove. 

- Accessibility 
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If you want to transfer more or fewer than the 
default files and settings, you can customize 
FSTW to include or exclude the items you want. 

for people who use the aforementioned password- 
saving feature to actually forget what their pass- 
words are, so be sure you look up and verify your 
passwords, lest you find yourself locked out of 
your files on the new computer 

And while most display settings (such as wall- 
paper and screen savers) will be successfully 
transferred by the FSTW, you may need to recon- 
figure the display resolution on your new com- 
puter to match the old one. Resolution is 
considered a hardware-dependent setting and 
won't be included in the transfer, even if your 
new system supports the same resolution as your 
old one. Finally, when transferring customized 
screen savers from Windows 9x/Me systems, the 
custom text will not be included, and you'll need 
to re-enter it. 

Running The Wizard 

The first step to using the FSTW is to run it on 
your old computer. If your old computer is a 
WinXP system, you can start the FSTW from 
there. If the old machine isn't running WinXP, 
you have two options. One option is to run the 
Wizard directly from your WinXP system CD 
(the file name is Fastwiz.exe, and it's in the SUP- 
PORT\TOOLS folder), while the other is to create 
a Wizard Disk on a floppy. The first choice may 
seem like the better one, but in some cases it will 
be preferable or even necessary to use the floppy- 
based wizard instead. 

Case in point: If your system came with WinXP 
and you got an automated system recovery 
CD rather than a conventional WinXP CD, it 
probably doesn't contain a SUPPORT\TOOLS 
folder. (This may also be true even if your system 
vendor did include a regular WinXP CD.) Also, if 

your WinXP CD doesn't 
come with WinXP Service 
Pack 1, you should choose 
the floppy route because 
the original version of 
FSTW was known to have 
some problems that could 
result in failed or incom- 
plete transfers. 

If running the wizard 
from the CD is not feasible, 
you can first run the FSTW 
on your new machine to 
create a floppy-based wiz- 
ard. (Apropos to the above, 
in the unlikely event that 
your new computer lacks at least WinXP Service 
Pack 1, it's best to upgrade it before running the 
FSTW.) You'll find the Files And Settings Trans- 
fer Wizard in the System Tools folder, which can 
be found by clicking Start, All Programs, 
Accessories, and System Tools. 

After you launch the FSTW and click Next, 
you'll be asked to identify whether the system is 
the new computer or the old one. Because we 
first want to create a Wizard Disk, select New. 
On the next screen, make sure the option labeled 
I Want To Create A Wizard Disk In The Follow- 
ing Drive is selected and refers 
to drive A: (or the letter of 
your floppy drive). Click Next. 

' r r ' Do you have a Windows XP CD? 

\&3H Floppy (A) 

I already have a Wizard Disk 

... ' . 

Out With The Old 

Once the Wizard Disk is in 
hand, it's time to go to your 
old machine and choose the 
information you want to 
transfer. If you're using the 
floppy-based wizard, insert it. 
Click Start and Run and type 
a:\fastwiz. If you've decided to 
use the wizard from the WinXP CD, insert 
the disc, and when the menu appears, click 
Perform Additional Tasks and then Transfer 
Files And Settings. 

Once the wizard is running, click Next, choose 
Old Computer, and click Next again. After a few 
moments of rumination, you'll be prompted to 
specify which method to use for the data transfer. 
The method you choose will depend on the 
amount of data you want to transfer and the 
capabilities common to both machines. For 
example, if you want use a USB hard drive to 

Wizard Disk in the fol 


I Cancel 

If your old machine isn't 
running Windows XP, 
create a Wizard Disk to 
run FSTW there and set 
up the data transfer. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 33 

Select a tiansfer method. 

.-,,■•■■■... ■■ .■ ... .... •• ■ • - ..,.-■ 

■:'_':■ Home or small office network 

. - •■ 

Floppy drive or other removable media 

Make sure bo 1 ' type of drive. 

O Other (for 

Folder . 


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Settings only 
O Files only 
■:J> Both files and settings 

■'■ I - 


You can use the FSTW 

to transfer settings, 

files, or both. 

transfer your data, both 
machines must support it. 

If both systems happen to 
be connected to the same 
network, you can choose ei- 
ther home or small-office 
network to transfer the data 
between the two systems. 
(For this example, however, 
we'll assume the two sys- 
tems aren't directly con- 
nected.) The other options 
are Direct Cable (serial 
only — parallel cables aren't 
supported) and Floppy 
Drive Or Other Removable Media. You can also 
choose Other and specify a shared folder (such as 
one on a network device) that both systems have 
access to. 

Note that in the case of the FSTW, removable 
media means a USB flash drive, external hard 
drive, or similar device — burning your data di- 
rectly to a CD-R (CD-recordable) won't work. 
(You can get around this, however, by choosing 
Other and specifying a target folder on the old 
system's hard drive. You can then burn that 
folder to a CD and carry it over to the new ma- 
chine.) After specifying a location for your old 
data to be stored, click Next. 

Now it's time to select the type of information 
you want to include in the transfer. You can 
choose Settings Only, Files Only, or Both Settings 
And Files. After you make a selection, the Wizard 
will display a detailed list of items to be included 
in the transfer. If you want to customize the list, 
put a check mark in the box labeled Let Me Select 
A Custom List Of Files And 
Settings When I Click Next 
(For Advanced Users), and the 
next step of the wizard will 
allow you to add or remove in- 
dividual settings, folders, or 
files from the list. 

After you complete the data 
selection process and click 
Next, the FSTW may prompt 
you to install certain applica- 
tions on the new computer 
prior to completing the transfer 
on the new machine. Take note 
of the applications listed and be sure to install 
them before running the wizard again on the new 
computer. After clicking Next a final time, the 
FSTW will collect and compress your data. Be 
aware that if you're transferring a large amount of 
data, the process could take quite a long time. At 
around the halfway point, the progress bar may 
even appear to stall, but chances are that your 

' ;. .. 

I J Browse... | 

hard drive activity light 
will be active, indicating 
that the task is still in 

In With The New 

FSTW can use removable media or a network 
drive to move data between machines. 

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When you finish the 
collection phase, head 
over to your new com- 
puter. If the FSTW is al- 
ready running, click Next 
and then specify where 

the wizard should look for 

the data to transfer. (Note 
that you'll be looking for a folder called 
Usmt2.unc.) If the FSTW isn't running, launch 
it, and after identifying the system as the New 
computer, click Next. Choose I Don't Need The 
Wizard Disk and click Next again to indicate the 
location of the data. 

As with the previous process of getting the 
data off your old computer, getting it into your 
new machine may take a while, so be patient. 
When the wizard is finally complete and 
you click Finish, you'll be prompted to log off 
and log in again so the data can be incorpo- 
rated properly. 

Once you've relogged into your new machine, 
you should find yourself in familiar territory 
with your settings, files, and folders successfully 
migrated to the appropriate locations. If Micro- 
soft Outlook or Outlook Express was included 
in your transfer, you should find not only your 
existing mail has been moved, but your address 
book and mail account settings, as well. 

In the event the wizard hangs, terminates un- 
expectedly, or produces unexpected results, you 
can check the log file, which may offer some in- 
sight as to what went wrong. (The problem will 
likely be listed at or near the end of the log.) The 
FSTW log file is called Fastwiz.log, and its loca- 
tion depends on what version of Windows is 
on your old machine, so use a search utility to 
find it. 

In addition to letting you transfer your cus- 
tomized settings between machines, you can also 
use the FSTW to create a backup of your cus- 
tomization settings in case you inadvertently 
change something. 

Using WinXP's Files And Settings Transfer 
Wizard is a good way to get your new PC person- 
alized quickly and easily, and it will save you from 
having to reconfigure all those little things that 
make your PC yours. II 

by Joseph Moran 

34 July 2005 / 

Three wonders every digital 
camera owner should experience 

fT°v * 


KanguruMedia X-change 

Get up to 80GB of digital photo storage 
built for the road. When you've filled 
your media cards but don't have 
access to a computer, the Media X- 
change is the perfect solution! Copy 
your photos right to this mini hard drive 
with the push of a button! 


* Works with CF, SD, MMC, Memory 
Stick, and Microdrive 

* Built-in Card Reader 
•High Speed USB 2.0 

* Portable design & custom carry case 

* Driverless on most OS 

Kanguru Slim FC-RW 

Never run out of storage! The Kanguru 
Slim FC-RW can provide portable 
backup or archival abilities for your 
flash cards while on the road! Burn 
your pictures directly from your flash 
card to a CD without a computer! 

• Works with CF, SD, MMC, Memory 
Stick, and Microdrive 

• Backup cards over 1GB 

• Play DVDs or view pics on your TV 

* Connect to your PC via USB 2.0 

* Burn CDs, Play DVDS, View Pictures 

* Rechargeable battery 

Hard Drives 

Run out of room for your photos on 
your computer? Store them on this 
sleek, high quality external HD. 
Excellent performance that looks great 
on your desktop too! 


* Up to 400GB of storage 

* Store thousands of digital photos 

* High Performance 7200RPM Drives 

* USB 2.0 or FireWire/USB 2.0 

* Alloy design dissipates heat 

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* Vibrant Blue Kanguru LED 

* Stands vertical or lays flat 

Available at: 

Call: 888.KANGURU 

'C Connection I 
Call: 800.800.5555 

Photo courtesy of OmarAttum Photography and stored on a Kanguru Media X-change. 

Insert the memory card into the Media X-change, push copy, and the photographs are downloaded. I then transfer the 

photographs from the Media X-change to my laptop... It's that simple!" - OmarAttum 

Compiled by Kyle Schurman 
Graphic* & Design by Lori Gar\is 

5 ' Magic In The A 

Fireworks Displays LightjJp The Sky 


Although your neighbors and friends might at least pretend to be impressed by the fireworks show in your back- 
yard, the truly great fireworks shows are large professional displays, often set to music. The behind-the-scenes 
work that perfects the timing of each high-altitude explosion requires plenty of planning and more technology 
than you might think. 

Fireworks display companies spend dozens of hours planning and setting up the complex shows, only to have the 
entire show end after around a dozen minutes. But the chorus of oohs and aahs makes the work all worthwhile. 

O Technicians create a 
schematic drawing of 
the fireworks layout, al- 
lowing them to speed the setup 
process along and to give each 
firework enough room. Working 
with the layout ahead of time also 
helps the technicians ensure there 
is plenty of empty space around 
the launching area, helping keep 
spectators safe. 

mortar is 
in the order in which 
it will be fired and 
put in place. For 
safety purposes, 
the mortars are an- 
chored into the 


Technicians load the 
shells into the mortars, 
making sure the diam- 
eter of each shell matches the 
diameter of the mortar, which 
allows the proper pressure to 
fire the shell into the air. Shells 
vary greatly in size and weight; 
typically, they're between 3 and 
12 inches in diameter and be- 
tween 0.5 and 12 pounds. 

©Different software performs different functions. This software, 
CueMaker 2000 from Pyrotechnics Management, helps calculate the 
wiring, manages the firings, and monitors the status of each connec- 
tion. Companion software can be used to manage the music for the show. 

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36 July 2005 / 


A laptop will connect with au- 
tomated firing hardware, such 
as this unit. Most newer hard- 
ware contains a USB connector, making 
the connection between the laptop and 
the hardware an easy one. Some auto- 
matic firing hard- 
ware even allows for 
a wireless connec- 
tion to the laptop. 
The hardware con- 
nects to the fire- 
works through 
standard wiring 
connected to 
an electric 


The inside of the shell consists of "stars" and black powder. The stars, each about the size of a marble, 
consist of black powder, perchlorate, and elements that provide the color and desired effect. When 
the lit time-delay fuse reaches the stars, they ignite. Black powder, meanwhile, helps provide the ex- 
plosion, propelling the stars in the desired directions. It consists of 75% potassium nitrate, 15% char- 
coal, and 10% sulfur. Black powder's composition hasn't changed since its capabilities were 
discovered in China more than 1,000 years ago. 

Different chemicals can create a variety of colors in fireworks. Many of these chemicals only work 
when they're in salt form, created by combining them with chlorine. Calcium also enhances colors. 


/ vVWM 


0V ^w 

^ w 

^l ; ss>* i i 

Sfrs ^ 




and strontium 


With the 
technicians place 
an electrical match 
into each mortar. 
The electrical 
match, also called 
a squib, allows the 
shell to be fired 
remotely, either 
through an 
electrical switch 
thrown manually 
or by a computer 

©For precise timing in a large- 
scale show, a computer con- 
trols all of the shell firings. No 
firings occur by hand when precise 
timing is required. You can use software 
to control the timing of the firings, as 
well as match the firings to music. 



and titanium 



and aluminum 


FireOne by Pyrotechnics Management, 
Inc., State College, PA. 

©The shell must fit tightly inside the mortar (or 
firing tube), which allows the necessary buildup 
of pressure to force the shell into the air. (Card- 
board typically houses the shell's contents.) Confined gun- 
powder in the bottom of the shell creates the proper lift. 
The automated firing hardware lights the electric fuse to 
launch the firework. 

©The contents of the shell determine the color and 
type of firework that you see. A time-delay fuse 
ensures the firework doesn't detonate until the 
firework reaches the correct height. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 37 

General Computing 

A Digital Video 
Handbook, Part III 

Create Your DVD 

After mastering the intricacies of your digital 
camcorder and painstakingly editing your 
video into a feast for the eyes, it's time to 
convert your cinematic vision into a tan- 
gible product you can distribute cheaply to 
friends and family. Yes, we're talking about burning your 
own DVD. We'll help you equip your computer with the 
right tools and guide you through the process of be- 
coming your own movie distribution channel. 

Tools You'll Need 

Burning your video onto disc is a two-step process: 
First, you'll need to convert your edited digital video 
footage into MPEG-2 (Moving Pictures Expert Group, 
Layer 2) format that's used for DVD videos. Second, you'll 
burn the MPEG-2 content onto a DVD. The key ingredi- 
ents to both of these steps are a fast computer, a DVD 
burner, and software to coordinate the entire process. 

A stout computer. Although today's computers seem 
overpowered for most of our daily computing tasks, dig- 
ital video production is one area where even the fastest 

computer systems can take a beating. 
When converting your video footage to 
MPEG-2, your PC will work overtime. 
Depending on the speed of your com- 
puter, converting an hour of video to 
MPEG-2 can take between four and six 
hours. If you're planning on pur- 
chasing a new PC for video production, 
buy one with the fastest available 
processor. If you can't afford to buy a 
dedicated system, you'll still be able to 
burn your movies to DVD. Doing so 
will simply take more time. 

Make sure that your computer has 
enough storage space to hold the orig- 
inal footage, as well temporary files 
created during the conversion 
process. This "scratch" space can take 
two to three times the space of your 
original video footage. In addition to 
storage space, you'll want to pack 
your computer with a healthy amount 
of memory, between 2GB and 4GB. 

A DVD burner. Creating your own 
DVDs requires a DVD burner that 
writes the MPEG-2 footage onto a 
DVD. If you already have a DVD 
burner, you're ready to go. If not, 
look into purchasing a DVD burner 
that supports dual-layer discs. See the 
"Dual-Layer Delight" sidebar for de- 
tails. If you can't afford a DVD burn- 
er but have a recordable CD-ROM 
drive, you can still create videos on a 
CD; see the "VCD: The Poor Man's 
DVD" sidebar. 

A burning application. Your video- 
editing suite usually handles converting 
your video footage to MPEG-2. In ad- 
dition, most of these suites can burn 

38 July 2005 / 

General Computing 

your video directly to DVD without the 
need for additional software. These ap- 
plications also allow you to create a 
ready-to-burn DVD image programs 
such as Nero (, a du- 
plication app, can read. This DVD 
image is in the form of a Video_TS 
folder that contains everything needed 
to create a DVD. This allows you to 
convert your video to MPEG-2 and 
then burn the disc on a different com- 
puter or at a later time. 

Create Menus 

One of the features that makes 
DVDs so useful is their menu system 
that allows you to jump instantly to 
a specific section of your movie. 
Creating professional looking menus 
is easy with most editing suites. 
We'll walk you through creating a 
basic menu with Adobe Premiere 
Elements ( and 

Dual-layer DVD burners such 
rewriteable) drive can create DVDs 
capable of holding 8.5GB of data. 

Adobe's Premiere Elements is one of a new breed of 
easy-to-use video-editing applications that gives you 
the tools to create professional DVDs. 

the marker. This will be the label that 
appears on your DVD menu. In the 
Marker Type menu, select Main Menu 
Maker and then click OK. 

Next, you need to choose a menu 
template for your DVD. Click the DVD 
button in the taskbar and select Apply 
A Template For A DVD With Menus. 
From the Themes menu, select a tem- 
plate that matches your DVD and click 
OK. Click No when prompted to set 
DVD Scene Markers automatically. 
Finally, preview your menu by clicking 
Preview DVD. 

Ulead VisualStudio 9. After 
you've completed editing your 
video, click Tools and Create 
Disc. Check the Create Menu 
box and click Next. Select a 
Menu style and then choose 
one of the templates in that 
style. Next use the jog bar to 
mark where you want a chap- 
ter to begin. Click the Add 
button to insert a chapter 
mark. When you're satisfied 
with where you've placed your 
chapter menus, click Next, and 
you'll be able to preview your 
DVD's menu. If you don't 
want any menu, simply un- 
check the Create Menu box in 
the Create Disc utility. 

Ulead VisualStudio 9 (www.ulead 
.com). Both retail for $99.99. 

Adobe Premiere Elements. Ele- 
ments uses Menu Markers to denote 
navigation points. To create Menu 
Markers, move the current-time indi- 
cator on your project Timeline to 
where you want to set the marker. 
Click the Set DVD Marker button, 
and when prompted, enter a name for 

The Burning Process 

The exact process of creating a DVD 
from your video footage depends on 
the editing suite you used to create 
your final video. We'll guide you 
through the burning process with 
Premiere Elements and VideoStudio 9. 

Adobe Premiere Elements. With 
your footage edited to your satisfac- 

tion, it's time to convert it to DVD 
format and burn it to disc. Click the 
DVD button in the Elements taskbar 
to bring up the DVD Layout window 
and click Burn DVD. In the Burn 
DVD dialog box, select Disc. If you 
wish to create the actual DVD later 
with a third-party burning applica- 
tion, select Folder as the destination. 

Next, name either the disc or the 
folder and select your DVD drive for 
the Burner Location. Make sure that 
you've inserted a compatible blank 
DVD into your drive. If you're out- 
putting the video to a folder, browse 
to the folder's location. Select the 
number of DVDs you want to burn. 

Now you'll need to configure the 
video quality of your DVD. If your 
footage exceeds the amount of space 
on your disc, you'll want to use the 
slider to control the video quality 
level. Alternatively, you can select Fit 
Contents To Available Space. 

After you've selected the destina- 
tion and quality settings, you'll need 
to choose an output format. If you in- 
tend to play your disc on a DVD 
player manufactured for use in North 
America, select NTSC. Click Burn, 
and your project will be converted to 
DVD format and copied onto your 
blank DVD. If you selected Folder as 
your destination, the converted video 
will be stored in the specified direc- 
tory. The length of the burning 
process depends on the amount of 
footage you're converting. Be pre- 
pared for this compression process to 
take anywhere between four and six 
hours per hour of footage. 

Ulead VideoStudio 9. To create 
your DVD with VideoStudio 9, click 
the Share tab and select Create Disc. 

Smart Computing /July 2005 39 

General Computing 

In the Create Disc window, click the 
Preferences icon. Select NTSC for the 
TV system and choose the appro- 
priate DVD size from the drop- 
down menu. Click OK to close the 
Preferences window. 

Next, click the Project Settings Icon 
and modify the MPEG settings as 
needed. You can choose from settings 
ranging from High Quality (60 min- 
utes per DVD) to CIF, which will give 
you up to six hours per standard DVD, 
albeit at a lower quality. Click OK to 
close the Project Settings window. 

Click Next to advance the Create 
Disc window to the Preview screen. 
Here you can preview how your 
movie will appear on DVD before you 
burn it to disc. When you're happy 
with its appearance, click Next. 

Insert a compatible DVD into your 
DVD drive, and in the DVD Volume 
Label field, give it a name. Select the 
Burn To Disc box, and if you want to 
create a copy on your computer's 
hard drive, click either Create DVD 
folders or Create Disc Image File. 
VideoStudio will display the amount 
of hard drive space it requires for 
burning your DVD, as well as the 
amount of space needed on the DVD 

itself. Click the Burn icon to initiate 
the process. A progress bar will dis- 
play the status of the process, which 
will take several hours. 

Save Your Master Copy 

Once you've created a DVD holding 
your video, use that to create dupli- 
cates, either with your editing suite or 
the disc duplication application of your 
choice (such as the aforementioned 
Nero). If you had chosen to create a 
copy of the final project on your hard 
drive, you can duplicate DVDs from 
that. Either way will save you from 
having to undergo the lengthy MPEG 
conversion/compression process again. 

Share Your Videos 

With a finished DVD in hand, you 
have the ability to distribute your 
videos in the best possible manner at 
an affordable price. With the preva- 
lence of both DVD drives in com- 
puters and DVD players for TV 
viewing, you'll be able to display your 
videos like a professional. II 

by Chris Jackson 

VCD: The Poor Man's DVD 


What do you do if 
you don't have a 
DVD burner? Why not 
create a VCD (Video CD)? 
VCDs are similar to DVDs 
in many ways, except they 
can be created using a 
writeable CD-ROM drive 
and use cheaper record- 
able CDs. VCDs have 
gained a widespread fol- 
lowing in Asia and are 
making inroads into 
North America for videos 
that don't require the 
pristine resolution offered 
by the DVD format. 

With a VCD, you do 
pay a penalty due to the 

smaller storage capacity 
of a CD. Where a DVD 
can hold between 4.7GB 
is limited to around 
600MB. To accommo- 
date the smaller ca- 
pacity, VCDs use 
MPEG-1 video compres- 
sion rather than a DVD's 
MPEG-2 compression. 
The result is about half 
the video quality of a 
DVD, or about what 
you'd normally get from 
a VHS tape. You should 
be able to store up to 74 
minutes of MPEG-1 
video on each disc. 

All three of the 
editing suites in this ar- 
ticle are capable of cre- 
ating VCDs, but not all 
DVD players will be able 
to display the VCD 
properly. If your target 
audience is composed 
of computer users, 
you'll probably be safe 
in distributing a VCD, 
but you'll need to check 
to see if your stand- 
alone DVD player can 
play VCDs. Newer 
models increasingly 
support the VCD stan- 
dard, but older players 
may be unable to. I 

Dual-Layer Delight 

When DVD burners first hit the 
computing world, the 4.7GB 
capacity seemed to be an unqualified 
blessing. When you measure the cost 
per gigabyte, it's one of the cheapest 
ways to store data, whether it's your 
video footage or files from your PC. 

However, there was always the ac- 
knowledgement that a DVD created 
on a burner had a lesser capacity 
than commercially produced DVDs, 
which could hold up to 8.5GBs. 
Commercial DVDs used this extra 
capacity to add multiple soundtracks 
and special features to movies. 

The primary reason for the gap 
between home-produced DVDs and 
commercial DVDs was how they 
were created. DVDs created com- 
mercially are stamped in two layers, 
with each layer holding 4.7GB of 
data. Your DVD drive's laser reads 
both of these layers effortlessly. 

In contrast, DVDs created with a 
DVD drive on your computer use an 
entirely different technology. A laser- 
sensitive dye is trapped between the 
layers of plastic that make up a DVD. 
When you store data on the disc, the 
laser heats the dye in a sector, thus 
etching your data on the disc. Until 
recently, there was no way to have a 
laser "write" to multiple layers suc- 
cessfully. But engineers at Philips have 
discovered a way to create two-layer 
discs that also retain backward com- 
patibility with the existing DVD stan- 
dard. This means that they'll play 
properly in most DVD players. 

These drives have just recently 
come onto the market and, despite 
their novelty, are quite affordable. 
You should be able to find a dual- 
layer drive for less than $1 50 from 
major vendors such as Plextor 
( and LaCie 
( Dual-layer DVD 
media still commands a significant 
premium over single-layer discs, but 
they should drop in price as the dual- 
layer drives are adopted in signifi- 
cant numbers. I 

40 July 2005 / 

General Computing 


Work With & Around Proprietary Parts 

It's like an episode of "The Twi- 
light Zone" come to life. It's time 
to upgrade your motherboard, 
but no matter which one you try, 
nothing seems to fit like it should. 
Before long, you have motherboards 
up to your ears, beads of sweat have 
begun to form on your brow, and you 
wonder if the salesman at your com- 
puter hardware store was actually a 
zombie regurgitated from Hades to 
make your life more difficult. 

Believe it or not, you may not be 
the victim of computer crime infil- 
trated by the undead, but may instead 
be the owner of a computer com- 
prised of proprietary parts. Common 
in many mass-produced models of 
computers with a small footprint, 
proprietary parts are hardware de- 
signed to fit in one specific model of 
computer and are difficult to replace. 
We're going to dive into this subject, 

one often considered taboo by com- 
puter manufacturers, and take a look 
at what proprietary parts are, how they 
work, and what you can do if you have 
proprietary hardware on your hands. 

Proprietary Parts & How They Work 

One of the best parts about com- 
puter hardware is its interchangeabil- 
ity. If you don't like how your ATX 
(Advanced Technology Extended) 
motherboard is performing, replace it 
with another ATX motherboard or one 
compatible with your case. (For in- 
stance, if you have an ATX case, it can 
not only house an ATX motherboard, 
but more than likely, it can also house a 
Micro ATX motherboard.) Or if you 
want to upgrade your 512MB, 184-pin 
Corsair RAM to 1GB of RAM, you can 
use RAM from any manufacturer 
you'd like, whether it be Corsair 
Kingston (www.kingston 
.com), or Crucial (www.cru, just as long as it is 
184-pin memory. 

But proprietary hardware 
works more like car parts do. 
If you're a mechanic and 
need to replace a carburetor 
on a '66 Mustang, you won't 
say, "Close enough," when 
your parts supplier plops a 
carburetor for a '79 El Cam- 
ino in front of you. 

Apply that scenario to PCs. 

A computer manufacturer 

may hear of a new processor 

and decide to produce a 

custom motherboard 

that gets the best performance from 
the processor at the greatest value. 
The manufacturer may also choose to 
save money by putting sound and 
video capabilities on board. So far, 
everything is fine, but let's say that 
five days after your warranty expires, 
your motherboard fries. Now you 
have to go to the manufacturer and 
get the one motherboard that specifi- 
cally supports that same processor 
and has the appropriate sound and 
graphics on board so that everything 
will fit in the case correctly. 

Most motherboards are made to last 
until it's time to upgrade. How- 
ever, upgrading can pose similar prob- 
lems. Say you decide to upgrade your 
computer, and you want to replace 
your Pentium III processor with a new 
Xeon processor. You'll probably need 
to upgrade your motherboard to fit 
your new processor. As you attempt to 
install the new motherboard, it won't 
slide into place. After comparing it 
with the old one, you notice your new 
motherboard is a completely different 
size. Your case was manufactured 
specifically to the design of your old 
motherboard, so it will not support 
your new motherboard. Now, not only 
are you replacing your old processor 
and motherboard, but you also have to 
scrap your case and buy a new one that 
will support your new board. Don't 
forget that you'll also have to buy new 
sound and video cards because your 
old ones were integrated into your 
motherboard. Before you know it, you 
have to replace your motherboard, 
processor, case, sound card, video card, 
and maybe even your power supply, 
and you're starting to wonder if it's 
worth it. What started out as a simple 
processor and motherboard upgrade is 
quickly turning into an entire com- 
puter upgrade. It would probably be 
easier to just buy a new computer. 

That very suggestion is what com- 
puter manufacturers are hoping you 
think. If you have to toss your case, 
sound card, video card, processor, and 
power supply because they aren't com- 
patible with the hardware you want to 

Smart Computing /July 2005 41 

General Computing 

upgrade to, common 
sense dictates it'd be 
easier to buy a new PC. 
You'd get the perfor- 
mance you're looking 
for, and you don't have 
to build it yourself. But 
then you have to worry 
about whether or not 
your new computer 
contains proprietary 
hardware. If it does, 
you'll probably have a 
similar situation with 
it, where it's easier to 
throw out the entire 
system rather than re- 
place everything. Be- 
fore you know it you're cycling 
through computer after computer 
rather than being able to replace/up- 
grade one or two standard pieces 
of hardware. 

If, however, you aren't comfortable 
with replacing computer hardware 
and you like the idea of just getting a 
new computer when the time comes, 
proprietary parts will be less of a 
worry. They can easily tide you over 
until you're ready for a new com- 
puter, and you probably won't have 
many hardware issues. But if you like 
to switch hardware to keep up with 
the latest trends, be more leery about 
buying a mass-produced model. 
Brands such as Dell, Gateway, and HP 
have all been linked to proprietary 
hardware at one time or another. 

Replace Proprietary Hardware 

While proprietary parts may offer 
some small benefits, such as generally 
longer warranties than the parts that 
go into a custom-built machine, re- 
placing proprietary hardware can be a 
pain. If you need to replace a propri- 
etary part, perhaps the easiest way 
(and likely the most expensive) is to 
go to the manufacturer. However, 
there are a few Web sites that have 
proprietary parts for sale. These sites 
may give you the parts you need and 
at a price that may be a little more 

A small case is one clue that 
your computer might house 
proprietary parts. 

budget-friendly. See 
the "Finding Propri- 
etary Parts" sidebar. 

Take the time to en- 
sure you're replacing 
the bad part with a 
functional part that is 
exactly the same. As 
we discovered earlier, 
upgradeability can be 
difficult, but replacing 
a part can be just as 
tricky. If you attempt 
to replace a propri- 
etary power supply 
with a nonproprietary 
power supply, chances 
are the power supply 
connectors will not match the connec- 
tors on your motherboard; however, 
there have been some cases where 
users got a nonproprietary power 
supply to connect to a proprietary 
motherboard and fried the mother- 
board in the process. 

This problem isn't limited to power 
supplies. Chuck Coleman, a repair 
specialist and registered tech for, warns, "There is 
also ECC/non-ECC memory, and 
they both communicate with the 
motherboard differently. One moth- 
erboard might require a certain type 
of memory, where if you placed the 
other in, it would make the mother- 
board obsolete." 

Questions & Answers 

Usually if you see the word "pro- 
prietary" on a manufacturer's Web 
site, it's referring to a new product — 
not how computers utilize parts that 
are difficult and expensive to upgrade 
and replace. Outside of a few debates 
on some discussion boards, users 
rarely bring the topic up, either. This 
is probably because not enough users 
are aware of the problems these parts 
can cause, or they don't know how to 
replace industry- standard hardware. 

We wanted to see if proprietary 
hardware was still being used in re- 
cently released models, so we went to 

some big-name manufacturers for 
some honest answers. Lisa Emard, di- 
rector of media relations for Gateway 
said, ". . . all of our standard note- 
book and desktop PCs use industry- 
standard parts; however, there have 
been some cases of products with 
unique form factors, like our all-in- 
one Gateway 610 Media Center, that 
utilize custom/proprietary parts such 
as motherboards." 

HP also mentioned it was using pro- 
prietary hardware in its PCs and note- 
books: A source from HP told us that 
"although HP does not develop or own 
proprietary technology, most of HP's 
PC graphics cards and motherboards 
are proprietary, which allows HP to 
offer the best performance and/or fea- 
tures at the lowest cost." Jonathan 
Kaye, director of product marketing 
for HP, added the following about 
HP's notebooks, "In HP notebook PCs, 
the docking connectors, AC adapters, 
and batteries are proprietary. This is 
due to the fact that no standards exist 
for these components." 

In contrast, Alienware (www.alien uses only one proprietary 
enhancement, Video Array, which is 
Alienware's own technology. It allows 
consumers to use two PCI (Peripheral 
Component Interconnect) -Express 
video cards to process commands in 
parallel. It is basically an expansion on 
SLI (Scan-Line Interleave), a tech- 
nology that allows you to use two iden- 
tical graphics cards in parallel. Video 
Array is slightly different from other 
proprietary hardware in that it can 
work with any pair of PCI-E video 
cards. It is proprietary in that it can 
only be purchased through Alienware. 
Terrance Arroyo, technical marketing 
manager for Alienware, explains why it 
stays away from using proprietary 
hardware: "It's all about quality. We 
purchase name-brand components 
right off the shelf that are tried and 
tested and work well." 

Monarch Computer Systems (www is another 
manufacturer that chooses not to use 
proprietary hardware. Much like 

42 July 2005 / 

General Computing 

Alienware, Monarch 
Computer wants its 
users to be able to 
easily replace or up- 
grade parts. Trey 
Harris, president of 
Monarch Computer 
Systems, says, "We 
believe in having 
the flexibility of run- 
ning different appli- 
cations with simple 

The Search For 
Proprietary Parts 

Now that you have a rough idea of 
how proprietary parts work, you're 
probably wondering whether your PC 
contains them. Recognizing propri- 
etary hardware is easier said than done. 
We were unable to locate a Web site 
dedicated to the recognition of propri- 
etary hardware. If you're not sure how 
much time and expertise you'll need to 
replace, for example, your old power 
supply, research the part first. Googling 
the part number is a easy way to get 
started. Read up on the part and see if 
there are stories of people having 
trouble substituting a different product 
for this particular part. You may also 
want to call the support center of your 
computer manufacturer and ask if it 
recommends a certain replacement 
part. We should warn you, though, that 
if your computer's warranty is still 
valid, doing this repair/upgrade work 
yourself will probably void the re- 
maining time on it. 

Sometimes all you need to do is look 
at your case. The smaller the case, the 
greater the probability something in- 
side your case has been specially made 
or modified to fit in it. Barbara Hohlen, 
an installation and maintenance spe- 
cialist, says, "The biggest thing that will 
give it [the usage of proprietary parts] 
away is the size of the case. Anytime 
you're looking at a smaller footprint or 
a shorter case, any of those things sug- 
gest that the parts inside will be 
harder to get." 

Many proprietary power supplies will 
include nonstandard connectors. 

Mix & Match 

Most of the time, 
you should be able to 
tell a part is propri- 
etary simply because 
the replacement you 
chose isn't compat- 
ible with the other 
parts of your system 
or the space it's de- 
signed to fit in. For 
instance, a propri- 
etary power supply 
may use a certain 
connection that isn't available in any 
other power supply. So if you try to re- 
place it with a generic component, it 
won't connect properly to your other 
hardware. Or perhaps the mounting 
brackets of a proprietary motherboard 
are in different spots than standard- 
shaped motherboards, thus preventing 
you from installing a motherboard that 
won't work correctly. 

Image courtesy of 

Know Thyself 

Proprietary parts have been plaguing 
computer builders and upgraders for 
some time. The difficulty that accom- 
panies trying to replace or upgrade 
parts for proprietary systems can try 
anyone's patience. So if you enjoy 
rooting around in and tweaking the 
guts of your system, you might not 
want to buy a mass-produced machine. 
Instead, consider building one yourself. 
Not only will you know what goes into 
it, but you also won't have to sweat 
about hardware compatibility issues 
every time you want to upgrade. 

However, if you plan on keeping 
your fingers out of the wires and aren't 
concerned with being on the cutting 
edge of technology, it's OK to go with a 
system from a major manufacturer that 
contains proprietary parts, as long as a 
reasonable warranty comes with it. II 

by Sam Evans 

Finding Proprietary Parts 

Just because you need Ore., helps you get your 
to replace a propri- 

etary piece of hardware 
doesn't mean you have 
to give an arm and a leg 
to the OEM (original 
equipment manufac- 
turer). Because of the 
large number of people 
who have computers 
with proprietary parts, 
there are many Web sites 
that cater to those users. 

One such Web site is 
Computer Parts Galore 
(www.computerparts This site fea- 
tures a huge archive of 
unique parts, a slew of 
which fit proprietary 
systems. Owner Brad 
Seavers says his site caters 
to "anybody looking to 
keep old systems run- 
ning." Computer Parts 
Galore, based in Corvallis, 

hands on numerous parts 
you might not be able to 
find at your local com- 
puter store. 

Another option is 
Kam Com Technologies 
which specializes in pro- 
prietary parts. It has 
thousands of parts 
archived on its site that 
can get your computer 
back on track if it is 
failing or if you want to 
upgrade. Not only will 
you find computer parts 
on Kam Corn's Web site, 
but it also has a large se- 
lection of proprietary 
printer parts. Owner 
Brian Kampa says that 
while Kam Com is de- 
signed to provide propri- 
etary technology at the 
business level, it will also 

do everything in its 
power to help the home 
computer user. 

Depending on the 
part you're looking for, 
you may be able to find a 
slightly used version for a 
lot less money than 
you'd pay for a new one. 
Many times these will 
work just fine, but if you 
decide to buy a used 
part from a vendor other 
than your manufacturer, 
be sure to check the war- 
ranty. Kam Com, for in- 
stance, tests all of its 
parts before distributing 
them. It also has a seven- 
day, DO A warranty 
policy, meaning that if 
your product fails under 
regular working condi- 
tions within seven days 
of purchase, it will be 
replaced. I 

Smart Computing /July 2005 43 

M r 



A Googol By Any Other Name 

Go <a»le 

It boggles the mind to think that July is upon us once 
again. It seems like it was only a year ago that I made a 
similar astute observation, but I could be wrong. I'll 
Google it and get back to you. 

Speaking of Google — and they don't call me the Sultan of 
Segues for nothing — do you know how Google got its name? 
It was originally Googol, which, as we all know, is a unit of 
measure represented by a 1 followed by 100 zeros. The new 
search engine was to be named Googol to project a sense of 
the vast amount of information that would be accessible by 
using it. When my good friends, founders Sergey Brinn and 
Larry Page (or Mr. Brinn and Mr. Page, as I call them), pre- 
sented their idea to an angel investor, they received a check 
made out to "Google, Inc." And the rest, as they say, is typo 
history. For additional company-name etymologies, visit the 
Wikipedia at www.snipurl 

If your Desktop over- 
floweth, sure you could 
delete a few icons, but 
where's the challenge in 
that? Instead, why not re- 
duce your icon size and increase 
the IPSI (icons per square inch) ratio? 
Start by right- clicking any empty area of 
your Windows Desktop. Click Properties, 
the Appearance tab (WinXP users click 
the Advanced button), and then the 
Item drop-down menu. Select Icon. 
Enter a lower number in the Size field 
to shrink the size of your icons, and 
then click OK. (My doctor tells me 
I shouldn't be concerned about 
shrinking icons at my age, but still. . . .) 
To increase your IPSI ratio, select Icon Spacing Horizontal 
and Icon Spacing Vertical and enter smaller Size values. 
Through trial and terror, you can easily increase the amount 
of space available for cramming icons onto your Desktop. 

A few months ago I asked for your comments and opinions 
about the amount of our personal information that's slowly 
but surely slithering out onto the Internet. Security concerns 
were cited as the primary reason why none of you were in 
favor of personal data, including financial, medical, and 
driver's license information, being available on the Web. The 
ACLU is also concerned and created a fascinating demonstra- 
tion of just how revealing the simple act of phoning in a pizza 
order could be in the years ahead. Have an anchovy-free slice 
on me while you visit 

If you occasionally encounter a Web page that runs off the 
edge of your screen, try reducing the size of your browser's 

display font by clicking View and Text Size or Zoom, de- 
pending on your browser. If that doesn't work, you could 
try increasing your screen's resolution, but all that clickin' 
and fussin' can be exhausting. Enter, the Size-O-Matic 
( This free program lets you view 
Web pages at any screen resolution without having to 
change any settings on your computer. Its toolbar-like pres- 
ence displays CSRs (common screen resolutions) ranging 
from 640 x 480 to 1,600 x 1,200. Drag a resolution to any 
window to change that window's resolution. It's a revelation 
in the resolution revolution. 

Windows 2000 and WinXP contain a helpful but largely 
ignored feature called the File Summary that can jog your 
memory when searching for a file. To deploy this feature, 
right-click a file, select Properties, and then click the 
Summary tab. You'll see fields for Title, 
Subject, Author, Category, Key- 
words, and Comments. If not, 
simply click the Simple button lo- 
cated at the bottom of the dialog 
box and then enter your com- 
ments, keywords, notes, memos, 
and any other information, all of 
which are searchable by clicking 
Start and Search. 

Before I wrap up this month's 
literary offering, let's review 
our agreement — yes, the time- 
honored Mr. Modem Reader 
Agreement. In Paragraph 2(a)ii, I 
avow that I will scour the Internet 
(and my two remaining neurons) to 
provide you with most gripping, com- 
pelling, riveting, fascinating, useful, hyper- 
bole-laden information you'll find anywhere in 
computerdom. Failing to find anything that meets those 
stringent criteria, however, I will present my usual column, 
instead. In return, I want to hear from you, so send email to and tell me what's on 
your mind or on your PC in the form of your favorite soft- 
ware, Web site, or computing tip: Are you enjoying your 
computer more than ever or have you had it up to here with 
viruses, spyware, and spam? Mr. Modem is listening. II 

by Mr. Modem 

Mr. Modem (Richard Sherman) is an author, syndicated 
columnist, radio host, and publisher. "Mr. Modem's Week 
Newsletter" provides personal responses to subscribers' com 
and Internet questions, plus weekly computing tips, Web si 
recommendations, virus alerts, hoax warnings, and more. 
For additional information, visit 

44 July 2005 / 

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Plugged In 


Leads To Positive Results 

Use Its Connections To Choose 
A Pet That's Right For You 

When it comes to something as 
personal as choosing a pet, 
it's easy to let emotions dic- 
tate our decision. Some of us might 
think that all we need to do is see those 
loving eyes, and we'll just instinctively 
know which animal is destined to be- 
come part of our lives. Others know all 
too well that the tendency to make de- 
cisions based solely on emotions is a 
weakness that's hard to control, so 
they avoid animal shelters altogether. ( 
helps address such issues by displaying 
photos of potential pets and offering 
complementary information so we can 
make the most appropriate choice be- 
fore welcoming an animal into our 
hearts and into our homes. 

The task of choosing a pet is much 
more complex than many people 
may realize. Betsy and Jared Saul, the 
founders of, under- 
stand this and want to 
serve as a resource that can increase 
the success rate of properly integrating 
pets into owners' lifestyles and homes. 
By introducing animals to people in 

the comfort zone of their own homes, 
the Sauls hope more pet owners make 
cautious and well-informed decisions 
that result in lasting bonds and happy 
pet-owner relationships. 

Head To The Library 

Just as each individual has her own 
personality, the same is true of each 
animal. Matching the characteristics 
of an animal with that of an indi- 
vidual or member of a family, as well 
as making sure a pet fits into the daily 
routine of an individual or family, re- 
quires some research, and that's what can provide. 

On Petfinder. corn's home page, 
click Library from the menu at the 
top, and you'll see the Library's index 
of main categories appear on-screen. 
At first glance, it might appear as if 
the Library doesn't offer that much 
information, but as you click each 
category, you'll realize that first ap- 
pearances can be deceiving. 

For example, let's assume that you 
want to adopt a dog, so you click the 

Adoption category link. The next 
page presents a myriad of articles cov- 
ering the various aspects involved in 
adopting a pet, from dogs to cats to 
birds. One particular article catches 
your eye — If You're Thinking About 
Adopting A Dalmatian — so you click 
its link and read the article to start 
your research. 

From the article, you learn that de- 
spite how Dalmatians are portrayed in 
such films as Disney's popular "101 
Dalmatians," the breed has several 
characteristics that may make parents 
reconsider whether it's the most ap- 
propriate animal for a family with 
children, particularly small children. 
On the other hand, if an owner is 
willing to train and properly direct a 
Dalmatian's natural energy level, the 
article states that the breed would be a 
good companion for those who jog, 
cycle, and hike. 

Directly above the article you just 
viewed, you see another article that 
might better help you discover what 
type of breed or mixed breed is best 
for your family. You click the How To 
Pick A Winner link and find an article 
written from a different viewpoint; 
rather than focusing on a particular 
breed, this article explains what you 
can do to properly evaluate dogs to 
find the most suitable and adaptable 
temperament for your household. 

And among the other articles you 
might want to explore in this section 
of the library is one called Estimated 
Yearly Costs Of Pet Ownership — read 
it just to make sure you've adequately 
reviewed that aspect of adoption. 

46 July 2005 / 

Plugged In 


Of course, Adoption isn't the only 
category listed in the Library index. 
You'll also find articles on such topics 
as Animal Behavior & Training, 
Animal Care, Living With Your Pets, 
and Shelter Operations. Hidden with- 
in these categories are subcategories, 
such as Allergies, Volunteering, Cat 
Breeds, and Humane Heroes. For in- 
stance, if you click Animal Care, 
you'll find articles about ferrets, birds, 
horses, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, 
hamsters, reptiles, and more. 

Your Search For 
The Right Companion 

There are several ways you can 
search for an animal via Petfinder 
.com. Because the Web site now has 
more than 8,600 shelters and place- 
ment organizations actively posting 
descriptions and photos of animals 
they have available for adoption, the 
search options the site provides will be 
a big help in streamlining your search. 
Also included with any search you 
conduct are icons indicating such de- 
tails as Special Needs, Declawed, 
Prefers Home Without Dogs, Prefers 
Home Without Cats, Prefers Home 

Not only does 

provide several ways for you to 

streamline your search for a pet, 

but it also presents its results 

with icons that can help you 

distinguish which candidates 

may not get along with your 

other pets or children. 

Your Pet Search Results 

"i'«i«" I "' 

■„|- : ,.t rl.-rp \ -\ 

Domestic Short Hair- 

"'•:■'■ " : 



Hills, NY 

Companion Animal 

Network Television 

Hills, NY 

Adult F Whisker! 

:..-.■:•: -.- '.".■;.;■: :..-; 

•■ ■■:. • ■ ' ' . ■ 


Without Children, and Prefers Home 
Without Small Children. 

Each of the shelters and placement 
organizations that use 
to attract potential pet owners are 
registered members (registration is 
free) who are able to manage their 
own account in real time. Some of 
these groups claim that more than 
50% of their adoptions are due to Plus, many report that 
the pets they place in homes as a re- 
sult of using have a 
higher success rate and are returned 
to the shelter less often. 

"Because has such 
great traffic and generates so much in- 
terest in adoptable pets, it is in the 
shelter's best interest keep its data 

Tips For Using 

• Read The Classifieds 

When you click Classified Ads from's home page, you'll find 
the section where you can post an ad, see 
various ads concerning lost pets, and re- 
view a list of ads regarding adoptable pets 
that— due to a variety of reasons— aren't 
able to stay in their current homes. 

•Find Out How You Can Help encourages visitors to volunteer 
at local animal shelters and rescue organiza- 
tions. To participate, click the Sign Up To Be 
A Volunteer link from the middle portion of 
the home page (below the Petfinder Features 
heading). To support specifically, 
you can click the Store link at the top and pur- 
chase a shirt, hat, or another product. 

•Spread The Word 

If you'd like to feature a 
piece of on 
your own Web site, you 
can place the Pet List 
Scroller (www.petfinder 
.com/tools/petlist) and/or 
the Featured Pet Module 
/featuredpet) within your 
site's code. Customization 
options, such as displaying 
pets from a particular 
shelter or region, also 
are available. 

up-to-date. Also, if a shelter hasn't 
touched its account in a certain period 
of time, we deactivate its pet list so the 
public doesn't fall in love with a pet 
that may no longer be available. Some 
of our members update their account 
many times each day," Betsy says. 

To see a list of which shelters and 
organizations are currently registered 
with the site, click the Shelter & Rescue 
Groups link at the top of the page. On 
the next page, you'll be able to select a 
U.S. state or a Canadian province/ter- 
ritory (or other areas, such as Puerto 
Rico) from a drop-down menu to 
narrow the list to your area. 

Quick Pet Search area. When you 
first visit, you'll prob- 
ably notice the Quick Pet Search area 
at the top of the bar on the left side of 
the page. This area consists of several 
fields and drop-down menus. Using 
these options you can select what type 
of animal you're looking for (Cat, 
Bird, Rabbit, etc.), enter a particular 
breed (or click a link to view a master 
list), choose an age range (Baby, 
Young, Adult, Senior, or All), indicate 
a desired size and gender, specify a re- 
gional area (via ZIP code, city, state, 
or province/territory), request a pic- 
ture preview, and select a search range 
(Regional, Expanded, or National). 

Below this area you'll see a Search 
Tips link to help you either expand or 
limit your search, as well as offer 
some explanations about how some 
of the search tools work. One of 
the tips mentioned here concerns's Advanced Pet Search. 
The helpful options this type of 
search provides include entering a 

Smart Computing /July 2005 47 

Plugged In 



l* C.-i|ll*i *, Cnrd* 

Sffflrrfi for a pet) 

T-»-»'' 1,:t "' 

m erf 010 

Mi'|i 7: I . r 1 1 ' 1 1 1 > ' n.iiiii' nf .in 

i- v-,1 twii r.r mw- If - r'.inl, 
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re = oon=oii:f'bes-jre:o 
talk Co fDur parents if tou 


specific pet name (perhaps you don't 
remember which shelter featured the 
animal, but you remember the pet's 
name), requesting to view only de- 
clawed pets, and excluding pets that 
aren't recommended for children. 

Just for kids (and parents). You 
can introduce children to the respon- 
sibility of animal care by including 
them from the very beginning as you 
search for a suitable family pet. On's home page, click Kids 
from the menu at the top to visit the 
Tama And Friends site (an adorable 
kitten and his pals), a colorfully illus- 
trated site with cartoon characters, 
fun activities (such as games and 
ecards), and feature stories that will 
appeal to kids and parents. 

Before you begin your search, how- 
ever, we recommend that you click the 
Parents link to consider a few ques- 
tions. Then, when you're ready to start 
your search, click Find A Pet. The first 
step lets kids select the type of animal 
they want to adopt (Dog, Cat, Small & 
Furry, etc.) from a drop-down menu. 
The next step asks kids to type a par- 
ticular breed in a field if they have a 
preference. The following step re- 
quires kids to enter a ZIP code, and 
then they can click Go to see the re- 
sulting list of information and thumb- 
nail pictures of adoptable animals. To 
see a larger photo of any of the ani- 
mals, just click an animal's name. 

Forums & Announcements also designates 
an area for messages and interac- 
tion among registered users and 

Parents may want to introduce 
their children to the responsibility 
of animal care by letting them 
initiate the process of finding a 
suitable family pet. 


representatives from animal 
organizations. To visit the Forum Index, 
click the Messages link in 
the menu bar at the top of 
the page. As an unregistered 
observer you can read various posts, 
but you won't be able to reply to any 
of them or post messages of your 
own until you register and log in. 

In addition, registration provides 
users with special forum features — such 
as avatar images, private messaging, and 
usergroup subscriptions — that aren't 
available to guests. For more informa- 
tion about participation in these 
forums, click FAQ at the top of any 
forum page. 

Meet & Greet 

Of course, making an informed 
decision about what type of pet 
would most likely be the best fit for 
you is one thing — meeting the furry 
(or not so furry) friend is another. 
When Betsy volunteered at an animal 
placement shelter as a teen, she says 
the shelter's manager told her to tell 
callers they had to visit the shelter if 
they wanted specific details about 
what type of animals were available 
for adoption because she knew the 
true value of a face -to -face meeting. 

"The person calling might think he 
wanted a purebred Golden [Retriever], 
but in fact, he would fall in love with a 
beautiful Golden/Shepherd mixed 
breed," Betsy says. 

You can't know which animal will 
capture your heart, so let Petfinder 
.com present several viable candidates 
before you visit a shelter. Doing so 
will ultimately lead to a better match 
and a happier home — for you, your 
family, and your pet. II 


What started out as a New 
Year's resolution in 1995 for 
Betsy and Jared Saul has turned into a 
life-altering experience for animals 
and humans alike. Betsy says she and 
Jared wanted to make a difference in 
the lives of homeless animals, and was born. 

Helping animals is a desire that's al- 
ways been a part of the Sauls' lives. 
From the time Betsy was 12 years old 
until after she graduated from high 
school, she volunteered at Animal 
Aid. But like many shelters, Animal 
Aid was quite a few miles away from 
the nearest town. 

"So, when we had the idea of, I immediately got 
chills. Imagine people being able to 
fall in love with a shelter pet from 
the comfort of their own living 
rooms," Betsy says. 

Jared is a neuroradiologist , but he 
manages Petfin 's technical de- 
velopment: He wrote all the original 
code for the site. cur- 
rently has a team of developers. Betsy, 
who was doing urban tree planting 
when the Sauls started, 
is happy the pet project (pun in- 
tended) turned into a full-time job. 

"We used to fantasize that some- 
day, I'd be able to do 
part-time, at least, as a real job. We 
have about 18 people on staff now, 
and I have the honor of being able 
to [regard] as a real 
job— overtime, not part-time!" 

In the beginning, Betsy says she 
and Jared decided that if they man- 
aged to save at least one animal's 
life per month, they would consider 
their mission a success. A decade 
later, at a rate of helping to find 
homes for more than 1.5 million an- 
imals per year, Betsy and Jared never 
imagined a simple resolution could 
grow into so much for so many. 

"It's perfect evidence that anyone 
can make a difference," Betsy says. I 

48 July 2005 / 

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Plugged In 

ike computers, 
i telephones have 
come a long way. "Mr. 
Watson, come here. I want to 
see you" may only ring a few bells 
(pun intended), but everyone is fa- 
miliar with cordless telephones, which 
are standard fare in households today. 
And fierce competition among cellular 
service providers has lowered the cost 
of owning a cellular phone to the point 
that many people are abandoning tra- 
ditional landlines altogether. 

It may not come as a surprise that 
the next innovation in telephone com- 
munication relies heavily on one of the 
cruxes of computing: the Internet. Also 
called IP telephony, VoIP (Voice over 
Internet Protocol) has been around in 
some form for years, but didn't really 
exist as a viable form of communica- 
tion for businesses until recently. But 
VoIP service providers are now of- 
fering VoIP plans, and manufacturers 
are producing hardware with VoIP ca- 
pabilities for individual consumers. 

Even though you can treat yourself 
to a veritable buffet of VoIP services, is 
it worth the investment? We'll tell you 
how VoIP works, what equipment 
you'll need to set up your own in- 
house VoIP, and whether it's a sensible 
choice for your pocketbook. 

Your Computer's 

Is VoIP Ready For Primetime? 

Here Comes The Science 

Any type of phone service that lets 
you make free calls deserves attention. 
Plain old telephone service, also called 
POTS, uses circuit-based switch- 
ing. In the days when Lassie alerted 
Timmy to danger and Timmy called 
Sheriff Miller, young Tim picked up his 
telephone receiver and established a 
direct circuit with Sheriff Miller. 
Timmy's call would be sent along a 
copper wire to a switching station (or 
stations), which connected to Sheriff 
Miller's phone line. When Sheriff 
Miller picked up his receiver, the direct 
circuit between him and Timmy would 
stay open until one party hung up. This 
was quite costly because one wire could 
only handle a single call at a time. 

Today's POTS uses more efficient 
fiber optic cable to send thousands of 
calls across a single wire. Voices are 
digitized and transmitted at 64Kbps 
(kilobits per second) in each direction. 
Basically, a five-minute call means you 
and the person you called send about 
5MB of voice data over the fiber optic 
cable during that period of time. 

But a lot of this is wasted data. With 
a fiber optic cable, you're still trans- 
mitting data even when you're just lis- 
tening. Therefore, a method that sent 

All-in-one devices such as the ZoomTel X5v 
act as a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) modem, 
ATA, and Ethernet router. 

When you set up a VoIP (Voice over 
Internet Protocol) router, plug your 
phone into the Phone port. 

only voice data could be very helpful. 
This is why packet-based switching, 
the basis of VoIP, is so appealing. 

A packet is a small block of data sent 
from one PC to another over a network 
or the Internet. It contains the data you 
transmit (in this case, your digitized 
voice), data that guides the packet to its 
destination, and data that corrects er- 
rors that may occur on the packet's 
journey. VoIP only opens a connection 
to send and receive the important 
packets — your voice and the voice of 
the person you called. When you speak 
into the receiver, a converter changes 
your analog voice into digital data 
packets and sends the packets over the 
Internet, and another converter re- 
assembles the packets into your voice 
for the other person to hear. 

Because VoIP uses the Internet as its 
medium, it's susceptible to problems 
that plague Internet use. Server down- 
time and DoS (denial of service) at- 
tacks, while rare, can affect VoIP calls. 
You shouldn't worry about getting a 
virus via a VoIP phone, but any call 
made using VoIP is at the mercy of 
the Internet. 

One Technology, Many Approaches 

You generally get what you pay for 
with VoIP services. You can download 
free software from companies such as 
Skype ( and use your 
PC as a phone. All you need is a PC 
microphone and speakers (a headset 
can kill these two birds with one 
stone), a sound card, and an Internet 
connection. However, your mobility is 
limited because, unless you buy a 

50 July 2005 / 

Plugged In 

It might appear to be an 
ordinary phone, but the 
back of this IP (Internet 
Protocol) phone has RJ-45 
Ethernet jacks instead of 
the RJ-11 jacks regular 
phones have. 


more expensive wire- 
less headset, your range 
is limited to the headset's 
cord's length. 

Most businesses that use VoIP as a 
primary method of telephone commu- 
nication use IP phones. These phones 
look like a regular phone but have an 
RJ-45 connector (the same connector 
you use to connect your PC to a router 
or broadband modem) instead of an 
RJ-11 phone connector. All of the nec- 
essary hardware and software is con- 
tained in the phone; an IP phone breaks 
your voice into IP packets and sends 
them through an IP-enabled PBX 
(Private Branch Exchange). The PBX 
sends the packets to the VoIP service 
provider's servers. Before the packets 
reach the recipient, another converter 
reassembles the packets to reproduce 
your voice. Most good IP phones cost 
several hundred dollars each. 

An ATA (analog telephone adapter) 
is a good middle-of-the-road option. 
Cisco's ATA-186, Motorola's VT1000, 
and Linksys's RT31P2 are all examples 
of AT As. They look similar to Ethernet 
routers but are more expensive (prices 
range between about $80 and $130). 
An ATA takes a traditional phone's 
analog signal, converts it to IP packets, 
and sends the packets over the Internet 
like an IP phone. A VoIP router such as 
the ZoomTel X5v combines an ATA 
and router in a single product. It looks 
like a regular router but has an addi- 
tional RJ-11 port for an analog phone. 
Make sure your ATA and Internet ser- 
vice are compatible; for example, some 

VoIP routers, including the ZoomTel 
X5v, require DSL (Digital Subscriber 
Line) Internet service. 

Some providers such as Vonage 
( and AT&T (www provide the 
necessary hardware if you sign up for a 
VoIP service plan. Plans that include un- 
limited calls to anywhere in the United 
States and Canada are $24.99 and $29.99 
a month, respectively. These plans don't 
include the cost of broadband Internet 
access, which is required for both plans. 

One disadvantage of using an ATA 
is that only the connected phone can 
place VoIP calls. If you have phones in 
several rooms, the only way to make 
VoIP practical is to buy a cordless 
phone that supports multiple handsets 
and plug its base station into the ATA. 

It's For You... Or Is It? 

Although it has an appealing wow 
factor, VoIP is still not ready to hit the 
mainstream. It's a smart alternative to 
POTS if you're in the right situation, 
but that's a big if. VoIP can save you a 
bundle of money if you frequently 
make lengthy long-distance calls, but it 
can also cost you a bundle if you don't 
already have broadband Internet. 

Seeing established companies of- 
fering consumer-level VoIP plans is an 
encouraging sign. Right now, it's good 
for early adopters. In a few years, it 
could be great for everyone. II 


For the tech savvy, setting up VoIP 
(Voice over Internet Protocol) in 
your home is a neat afternoon project, 
but we should stress it's not for the 
faint of heart. If you decide to pur- 
chase something such as a VoIP 
router, here's a general idea of some of 
the hurdles you'll need to clear before 
placing your first call over the Internet. 

Before you buy a VoIP router, 
ensure that it's compatible with 
two things: your ISP (Internet service 
provider) and the VoIP service 
provider you choose to use. 

You'll need broadband Internet 
access to experience calls close to 
POTS quality. You may need to install 
software before you actually connect 
anything to the router itself. If your 
computer isn't already configured to 
connect to the Internet via a broad- 
band connection (this shouldn't be 
an issue if you already have broad- 
band Internet access), most VoIP 
routers will require you to do so. 

Next, you'll have to configure the 
VoIP router. Unless the router auto- 
matically configures itself, you'll need 
to connect it to your computer via 
an Ethernet or USB cable to con- 
figure it. Depending on the VoIP 
router you buy, this step can range in 
difficulty from relatively easy to ex- 
cruciatingly tough. You'll definitely 
want to follow the router's user 
manual for this step. Connect your 
phone to the appropriate port on 
the router (it should be labeled 
Phone or something similar) and 
connect the router to your broad- 
band modem or wall outlet with an 
active Internet connection. 

Finally, you'll have to register with 
a VoIP service provider. Because 
most service plans are not free, be 
sure you read and understand the 
provider's terms of service before 
signing up for any plan. I 

Smart Computing / July 2005 51 

Plugged In 

Your Secret 
(Data) Is Out 

Private Information On The Internet 

Andrew Brooke first experienced 
credit problems when he was three 
weeks old, according to a recent ABC 
News report. Fortunately, Andrew's 
parents were able to catch the crime 
early. When they received a bill stating 
that Andrew had purchased prescrip- 
tion drugs from a nearby clinic, they 
knew something was fishy. Andrew was 
fortunate because his parents were able 
to correct matters early; other victims 
of identity theft are not as lucky. 

Identity theft affects victims in many 
ways, including being denied jobs, 
being unable to obtain financing, and 
receiving daily phone calls from collec- 
tion agencies asking for money from 
purchases they didn't make. Because all 
of us want to steer clear of such situa- 
tions, avoiding identity theft has be- 
come a priority. According to a recent 
ABC News/Washington Post poll, 72% 
of Americans are concerned that 
thieves could use the Internet to steal 

personal information. While the 
Internet makes people's private infor- 
mation available by including public 
records, that's not the only problem. 
According to Nick Simicich, a retired 
IBM security expert, "the issue for 
people who are concerned about pri- 
vacy is not that the information is 
available on the Internet, it is that it 
is available at all. What the Internet 
does is that it amplifies the problem by 
providing cheap publishing." 

Identity theft is scary. About a year 
ago, stories were floating around that 
described the ability to find credit card 
numbers using Google ( 
.com). Thankfully, it's not as likely that 
you'll be able to find credit card num- 
bers using Google today. Since these 
stories first appeared, most of the sites 
containing credit card information 
have been removed from the Internet 
or are no longer indexed by Google. 
Although Google searches turned up 
the pages containing credit 
card numbers, Google was 
not the criminal; the real 
criminals were the people 
listing these numbers. 

A powerful tool is only 
safe when used properly. 
The Internet is no ex- 
ception. Although most 
company and personal 
pages don't contain con- 
fidential information, it is 
still possible to find con- 
fidential data with a little 
hard work. 

It's important to under- 
stand the difference be- 
tween secret and sensitive 

information. For our purposes, secret 
information is that which you'd want 
to protect and wouldn't freely give out 
to others. This includes bank account 
numbers, credit card numbers, and So- 
cial Security numbers. Secret informa- 
tion is not part of public records. On 
the other hand, sensitive information, 
such as a criminal history, is infor- 
mation you'd rather not share with 
someone (especially an employer), but 
is accessible by searching public re- 
cords. Unfortunately, the difference be- 
tween sensitive and secret information 
can be murky because some secret in- 
formation appears on public records. 

What's Available 

Some of the easiest information to 
find online are names, addresses, and 
phone numbers using an online ver- 
sion of a phone book such as Yellow- 
Pages. com ( 
or (www.whitepages 
.com). Because you can accomplish 
the same thing using a local phone 
book, it should come as no surprise 
that you can find this information on- 
line. If a person doesn't have a land- 
line, or if he has an unlisted phone 
number, you probably won't find his 
number on these types of sites. 

Another popular way of finding in- 
formation about a person on the 
Internet is to use her name as search 
criteria on a search engine. These 
searches can return a myriad of infor- 
mation. If the person you searched 
for has a common name, such as 
Smith, it's likely the information the 
search results provide may refer to 
multiple people who have the same 
name. The information may include 
professional contact information and 
affiliation information. 

If a newspaper article included a 
person's name, you may find sensitive 
information, such as birth or death 
dates. Other times, it may include in- 
formation about their involvement 
with a local sports team. 

If you conduct a search on a Web 
site that includes ads related to your 

52 July 2005 / 

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You can search for a range of numbers or 
specific file types using Google. 

search, as Google does, you're likely to 
see advertisements that claim to be 
able to find more information about 
your subject, provided you pay for 
their services. While you can obtain in- 
formation about a person by using one 
of these paid services, most of the in- 
formation obtainable via these means 
is also available on free sites; you're 
paying for the convenience of having a 
program search for you. 

The Dirt 

To test the amount of data available 
on the Internet, we conducted an ex- 
periment. First, we used WhitePages 
.com to search for our test candidate; 
we'll call him Joe Smith. In this search, 
we found Joe's address and phone 
number. After finding Joe's home ad- 
dress and phone number, we used the 
address to find a map to Joe's house by 
entering the address into Google. 

We then searched for Joe Smith 
using Google and discovered a few of 
his professional affiliations and his 
place of employment. We found men- 
tion of Joe's name on a few sites that 
indicated he was a member of a tech- 
nology committee. Joe's name was also 
included on a local hospital's donor 
list. On the employer's Web site, we 
found a picture of Joe and information 
about his position, experience, profes- 
sional memberships, education, and 
community involvement. 

Further examining the search re- 
sults, we found that Joe has a wife and 
two children. Most of this came from 

news articles that mentioned one of the 
children's names and something to the 
effect of "son of Joe and Sally Smith." 

Many assessor's Web sites list infor- 
mation about property assessment 
value and property tax information 
that is searchable by either address or 
owner name. We searched for informa- 
tion on Joe's property and found the 
assessment value of his home and a 
picture. We also found Joe and Sally's 
notarized signatures with deed infor- 
mation for their house. 

Because the information we found 
on Joe is a part of public records, we 
weren't surprised by our results. We 
were somewhat disturbed by the 
notarized signatures; they could be 
harmful in the hands of a thief. 

Costly Dirt 

As we mentioned, some companies 
advertise that they can find more in- 
formation about your subject, some 
of which may be secret information. 
While some of these Web sites only 
provide the convenience of searching 
for you, others can find information 
you might not otherwise find. 

We tested (www, whose paid ad- 
vertisements said they would find in- 
formation on an individual. People- claimed to be able to find provides national 
information that is similar to what you 
would find in your local white pages. 

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Yahoo! lets you search for information in certain 
file types using its Advanced Web Search. 

address records, relatives, listed phone 
numbers, property records, neighbor 
records, address occupant records, 
death index records, marriage records, 
divorce records, Internet domain 
records, criminal records, and more. 

After obtaining the results from, we reviewed the 
information. While the information 
was accurate, it was very incomplete. 
In fact, we found more information 
by searching at a variety of free Web 
sites and using Joe's name or address 
for the search criteria. We also no- 
ticed that information regarding past 
neighbors was rather out of date. 
One piece of information this Web 
site did provide that we didn't find 
via free Web sites was Joe's birth 
month and year. 

Purchase Secret Information 

There is abundant software and paid 
Web sites that offer to find secret in- 
formation, including birth dates and 
Social Security numbers. If an identity 
thief has this data, it would not be that 
difficult to steal your identity. It's not 
always that easy, though. While some 
sites are real and may provide accurate 
data, most are a scam. 

Many of the more legitimate Web 
sites will ask you why you need to 
know this information and make you 
prove it. For example, 
( asks you to 
provide a valid reason for obtaining 
this information and says it will re- 
quire you to fax documents to support 

Smart Computing / July 2005 53 

Plugged In 

You can use to find 
information on either a business or a person. 

your reason. You must also provide a 
landline phone number to verify the 
validity of the request. 

Such deterrents should keep a thief 
from obtaining secret information 
about an unknowing citizen. However, 
these deterrents are only as reliable as 
the company's enforcement policy. 

Protect Yourself 

Given that there's information on 
the Internet you may not want 
others to find, you're probably won- 
dering what you can do about it. 
However, information that is part of 
public records is likely to remain on 
the Internet. 

While there are precautions you can 
take to protect yourself, some things 
are out of your control. Simicich 
notes, "If you want your house to be 
safer from criminals, you can put in a 
security system or buy a gun; but your 
identity is, essentially, not under your 
control in today's world. Hundreds of 
different banks with hundreds of dif- 
ferent standards for identity control 
your identity — and there is not much 
you can do to change their practices." 

To protect yourself from having a 
credit card number posted online, 
make sure any purchases you make 
online are via reputable stores. Also, 
before entering your credit card infor- 
mation, ensure that the Web page is 
secure by looking for https:// in the 
site's URL (uniform resource locator) 
and a picture of a yellow padlock in 
the lower- right corner of the browser 

window. Although this is not fool- 
proof, and some supposedly secure 
Web sites do get hacked, this is a good 
start to protecting yourself. 

Another way to protect your credit 
card information is to use single use 
account numbers whenever possible. 
Many credit card companies offer 
customers the ability to generate a 
credit card number that is only valid 
for a single use and only for a few 
months after generation. Using this 
service, your credit card information 
is more likely to be safe because the 
number has limits. 

If you find secret information 
about yourself by using a search en- 
gine such as Google, look for infor- 
mation on how to request removal of 
that Web site from Google's index so 
that it will not appear in future 
searches. Google only allows Web site 
owners to request removal of a Web 
site from its index. If you want 
Google to remove a Web site from its 
index, you'll have to contact the Web 
site owner and ask him to request re- 
moval of the Web site from Google's 
index. However, this may only cause 
more problems because contacting a 
(potential) thief to ask him to remove 
secret information may cause more 
harm than good. 

Spyware on your computer can 
track your computing habits without 


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The Nationwide Environmental Title Research 
( has a listing of sites you 
can go to in order to find property information. 

i\Tf Peoplefinders 

Search Billions of Public Records Locate Anyone - Anywhore! 

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Mm <m 1 Jt*M?,t71 narii r, • hvqh iuA, &mt.mi is one of many Web 
sites where you can order a background 
report on a person. 

your knowledge. It's always important 
to run a good spyware removal tool, 
such as Lavasoft's Ad-Aware (www and antivirus software, 
such as McAfee VirusScan (www on a regular basis. 

If you use a file-sharing program to 
trade files with other people, make sure 
you're not accidentally sharing files 
with private information from your 
computer with others. A Georgia news 
station recently reported that a man 
who used a popular file-sharing pro- 
gram to transfer files over the Internet 
had unintentionally given others the 
ability to view his tax return. After re- 
ceiving a call from a Good Samaritan 
informing him that his tax return was 
on the Internet, this man learned that 
the program he used to prepare his 
taxes was saving files to the same folder 
his file-sharing program was using. 

The Bottom Line 

There is a significant amount of in- 
formation about individuals on the 
Internet, but most of it is not actually 
secret as it's part of public records. 
While you may wish to minimize your 
exposure, you're not likely to be able 
to initiate the removal of most of this 
information. However, you can take 
steps to protect yourself when shop- 
ping on the Internet or working on 
your computer so as not to increase the 
amount of information available. II 

by Jennifer Johnson 

54 July 2005 / 

Plugged In 

Enhance Your Time Online 

A Snapshot- 
Sharing Community 

Problem: I'm getting over- 
whelmed by my ever- 
growing collection of 
digital photos. I want to 
share them online, not just 
with friends and family, but 
also with other likeminded 
Solution: For some time 
now, there have been online 
photo services — most no- 
tably Snapfish (www. snap, which HP re- 
cently bought, and Kodak 
EasyShare Gallery (www, previ- 
ously Ofoto. There's a new 
kid on the block getting a lot 
of buzz, and it's a site called 
Flickr ( 
Instead of being a post-and- 
print site like the others, 
Flickr is taking a more 
blog-like approach to 
sharing photos. Folks are 
raving about this site's 
amazing organizational ca- 
pabilities, including the tag- 
ging feature that allows you 


to describe your pics with 
searchable keywords. 

Here Comes The Groom 

Problem: My fiancee and I 
are starting to plan our 
wedding. I understand that 
the emphasis is mostly on 
the bride, but where can I 
get some tips that won't 
treat me like a second-class 
citizen at my own wedding? 
Solution: Maybe some guys 
think their wedding respon- 
sibilities begin with "Will 
you marry me?" and end 
with "I do" without much 
in between. Many of today's 
grooms are more eager to 
roll up their sleeves and 
help their brides get all the 
details right. So if you're 
looking for a guy- focused 
guide, go to Groom411 
( All 
the basics are here, from 
toasts and tuxes to grooms- 
men's gifts. Plus there are 
some crazy- cool tools, such 
as a Budget Calculator, 
Countdown Timer, Thank 

Welcome to Groom411 r your 

Plus gain valuable bonus points if your fiat 

e to the good, bad and ugly of being a gro 

m. Feel Free to click, explot 

e sees you actually researching your wedding. 

Wedding 101 

Plain, simple and n 
cro-magnon in all of us. 


Look good. Talk s 
Act graceful. 


Numbers guy? Touchy feely? 
We got you covered. 

Thank you . Ekcu^ :-, Toasts 
Com to 
Wedding bingo 


Have to get rid of 
pictures or 
letters from your 

get married, but 

About Groom411 

What's up with this si 

Got a beef? 

Got a suggestion? 

Don't let your bride do all the work. Groom41 1 gives 
guys good wedding advice. 

H.ire&Sy i i-enb&r? 


The best way to store, search, 
sort and share your photos. 

for a free account 

It is better to be a young June - bug than an old bird of paradise . - Mark Twain 

- ■■ \f\ -■■*■■ 

■£.I? M KI1DI1 

Upload, organize, and post photos with powerful tools from Flickr. 

You Card Generator, and 
Excuse Generator to help 
with "liar's block." We're 
not so sure about that last 
one, but at least this site will 
remind you that weddings 
should be fun. 

Give & Take 
Writing Advice 

Problem: I've been told 
that I should seek out a 
writing workshop to im- 
prove my writing. 
Solution: It's true that you 
can't improve your writing 
without some constructive 
criticism, and it's equally 
helpful to think critically 
about someone else's work. 
So it's refreshing to see 
Great Writing (www. great Started after 
a similar BBC site (Get 
Writing) was shut down, 
Great Writing makes 
sharing your writing easy. 
Post a piece of your work, 
sit back, and wait for the 
comments to come in. 

Radio Waves 
Around The World 

Problem: I love listening to 
the radio, but lately it's 
hard to find a station 
playing the music I like. 
Where can I find more 
choice that doesn't involve 
expensive satellite subscrip- 
tion charges? 

Solution: One of the many 
beautiful things about the 
Internet is what it provides 
in terms of accessibility. 
For a comprehensive radio 
station searcher, tune in to 
Radio Locator ( Find a radio 
station by searching by city, 
ZIP code, call letters, or 
format. There's even a 
Canadian and international 
search. The results list sta- 
tions that broadcast online. 

How Many Ways 
Jo Lace A Shoe? 

Problem: We're having the 
worst time teaching our son 
to tie his shoes. 
Solution: It may blow your 
mind to know that there are 
almost 2 trillion ways to 
thread a shoelace through an 
average shoe with six eyelets. 
So says Ian, the shoe geek 
guy running the Shoe Lacing 
Methods site (www.fieggen 
ods.htm). The 22 methods 
he describes with illustra- 
tions range from traditional 
to decorative, with alterna- 
tives for neatness and less 
wear on the laces. Adults 
may find this more helpful 
for their own use rather than 
for teaching the little ones. 
As for knot tying, check out 
Ian's Ian Knot, which he 
calls the world's fastest. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 55 

Plugged In 


Compiled by Joshua Gulick 
Illustrated by Lindsay Anker 

Surf The Galaxy 

When a weatherperson refers to 
showers, you can expect rain — unless 
you check, that is. 
When this site mentions showers, it's 
probably referring to meteors streaking 
through space. Here astronomers can 
check up on solar wind speeds and 
solar flares. If movies about Earth-de- 
stroying asteroids make you nervous, 
don't scroll to the bottom of the main 
page: The Near-Earth Asteroids section 
keeps track of the month's close calls 
and lists Potentially Hazardous Aster- 
oids. offers user- 
submitted pics and Spaceweather 
PHONE, a service (available for $4.95 
to $6.95 per month) that calls your 
home phone to alert you to any space 
events you might be able to see from 
your backyard. 


Although NASA's bold space pro- 
jects still have the limelight, the ESA 
isn't standing still. The European Space 
Agency, which has 16 member nations, 
runs this space program. The ESA has 
launched multiple satellites, including 
Mars Express. This spacecraft, which 
launched the ill-fated Beagle 2 rover 
less than a week after arriving on Mars, 
has already collected brilliant pho- 
tographs of Mars' surface. Check out 
the latest space news at the ESA's main 
page and then look at new pictures of 
Mars in the Latest Mars Images section. 
(The pics aren't new to ESA scientists, 
however. They review the pictures for 
six months before releasing them.) 

NASA Human Space Flight 

You can find plenty of space news at 
NASA's main site,, but 

if you're interested in 
space flight and the space 
station, visit the Space Flight 
Web site. The site offers reports 
on the status of the International Space 
Station and includes articles about 
NASA personnel and the redesigned 
shuttle that make space operations run 
smoothly. If you want to try to spot 
spacecraft as they fly over your back- 
yard, click SkyWatch and then click 
Quick And Easy Sightings By City. 

Hubble Heritage Project 

Some of the HST's (that's Hubble 
Space Telescope to astronomers) im- 
ages make for great research but might 
not inspire the average viewer. To that 
end, a group at the Space Telescope 
Science Institute uses several filters to 
cull irrelevant objects from the images 
and add colors that emphasize gases, 
planets, and stars. The site includes 
dozens of brightly colored pictures 
and continues to grow as the team 
adds a new picture every month. You 
can learn more about how the team 
processes these images in the Hubble 
Heritage Information Center. 


Although the ANSARI X PRIZE 
Foundation formed in 1995, the space 
race didn't become a household name 
until Mojave Aerospace Ventures' 
SpaceShipOne seized the $10 million 
crown in 2004. If you missed the flight, 
surf on over to the X PRIZE Web site. 
The main page links to a video of the 
prize-winning SpaceShipOne flight, 
current space-related news stories, and 
plenty of information about the prize, 
including a history of the program. 

Smithsonian National 
Air & Space Museum 

Can't get to the Smithsonian any- 
time soon? Take an online journey 
through its online material. Although 
the Web site doesn't show all of the 
exhibitions, it offers tons of informa- 
tion about (and photos of) various 
planes and spacecraft. The site also 
has Web cams that let visitors peek 
into the Paul E. Garber storage com- 
plex, which houses airplanes and 
spacecraft. The museum is moving 
the planes to the newly built Steven F. 
Udvar-Hazy Center, but employees 
still restore aircraft and spacecraft in 
the hangars. 

If bad weather is hindering your 
evening sky- watching plans, head in- 
side and check out APOD (Astron- 
omy Picture Of The Day). The site's 
curators, Robert Nemiroff and Jerry 
Bonnell, collect user-submitted pic- 
tures of space and write brief, but de- 
tailed, explanations of the picture of 
the day. The Archive links to previous 
pics, and the Education section boasts 
a comprehensive list of astronomy 
Web sites. Chances are you won't 
have any trouble understanding the 
picture descriptions, but if you run 
across a word you don't understand, 
you can probably find the definition 
in the site's glossary. 

56 July 2005 / 



To You 

Finding the appropriate Usenet discus- 
sion group to match your interests can 
be a monumental task. So each month, 
we scour tens of thousands of news- 
groups and highlight ones that delve 
into popular topics. If your ISP (Internet 
service provider) doesn't carry these 
groups, ask it to add the groups to its 
list. This month we look for groups that 
have their heads in the clouds. 


This group acts as a catchall for a va- 
riety of astronomy-related topics. 
Sci.astro has a variety of sub-groups, 
including .amateur, .hubble, .plane- 
tarium, and .research. The .seti sub- 
group includes posts about SETI 
(Search For Extraterrestrial 
Intelligence; and its 
popular telescope-data-crunching 
software. Many users post here when 
they have trouble with their software. also breaks into several 
more focused subgroups. You'll find 
several active branches, including 
.history, .policy, .station, and 
.shuttle. If you're more interested in 
space missions than in astronomy, 
you'll love these groups. 

Ham radio operators often listen for 
sounds from satellites and the 
International Space Station. When 
they hear signals they can't 
identify, they describe it to 
fellow listeners who try 
to determine what 
caused the sound. 

Share The Wares 

Some of the best apples in the online orchard are the free (or free to 
try) programs available for download. Each month we feature high- 
lights from our pickings. This month, we align the stars and then take a 
digital walk down memory lane. 

Cartes du Ciel 2.76 

Perhaps you're planning to map out a basic sky map that lets fellow 
hobbyists spot star clusters from their backyards. Or perhaps you want 
to create a deep-sky chart that guides users who have telescopes. The 
program boasts 16 star catalogs and a variety of space-mapping tools, 
including a feature that lets you label various objects and a feature that 
switches the view between a brightly colored map that shows coordi- 
nates and a detailed map that indicates stars and planets. Patrick 
Chevalley wrote Cartes du Ciel and offers it free to all astronomy en- 
thusiasts. Cartes du Ciel supports Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP. Space Quiz Game 

If you're looking for educational games, visit The site of- 
fers online activities for three age groups (3 to 6, 6 to 9, and 9 to 12) and 
houses tons of jokes and free ecards. Young future astronauts can test 
their knowledge of out- of- this -wo rid facts by clicking the main page's 
Brain Teasers link and then clicking The Outer Space Quiz Game. The 
game, which involves a multiple-choice quiz, has simple rules — one of 
which is select the correct answers as fast as you can. The quiz bases your 
score on speed and accuracy. The Space Quiz Game has some tough ques- 
tions (for example, "Which was the first planet to be seen by a tele- 
scope?"), but it provides the correct answer after you make a selection. As 
with's other quizzes and games, the Space Quiz Game is free. 

Stellarium 0.6.2 

As with Cartes du Ciel, Fabien 
Chereau's Stellarium is a sky-map- 
ping program that lets amateur as- 
tronomers re-create the night sky on 
their screens. Stellarium offers basic 
animation (twinkling stars), 88 con- 
stellations, planets, satellites, and 
more than 120,000 stars. If you're in- 
terested in the constellations, you'll 
like the mythological figures feature, 
which superimposes semitranspar- 
ent images over the constellations. 
The software automatically 
matches its image to the 
S^ system's date and 
time (you'll need 
to adjust the 

Looking for constellations from 
your back yard? Consult Stellarium 
to find out which constellations 
are above you. 

£jto|V location to make sure it represents your sky, 
lM^ assuming you're not using this software in 
Paris). The site offers Mac, Windows, and 
Linux versions of Stellarium. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 57 

Enter The World Oi Digital Cameras 


l« « 



ith your friends, family, and 
neighbors constantly whipping 
out their newfangled digital cam- 
eras, you might feel like you're 
perpetually missing the boat as you load yet 
another roll of film into your sorry old camera. 
Heck, maybe you even snap all your pictures 
while holding your film camera at chest level, 
pretending it's actually a digital camera to 
avoid embarrassment. We understand. 

The good news is that there's no better time 
than now to enter the digital camera world. 
These cameras are not only less expensive these 
days, but they're easier to use and packed with 
features. Yet, all of the reasons that make digital 
cameras more powerful and flexible than film 
cameras also make them confusing to first- time 
buyers. But don't worry; we're here to help with 
this primer on digital camera basics, along with 

58 July 2005 / 

a synopsis of popular models. (See our 
"Digital Camera Roundup" sidebar.) 

Going Digital 

When you snap a picture with a 
conventional film camera, the camera 
uses a chemical process to record a 
light pattern on film. A digital camera 
doesn't use film; the light patterns 
that represent the pictures you take 
are recorded electronically by a sensor 
(called a CCD [charge-coupled de- 
vice]) that accumulates electrical 
charges. These electrical charges vary 
in strength depending on the amount 
of light captured in each pixel. Indi- 
vidual pixels (tiny, squared-shaped 
picture elements) combine to form 
an entire picture. 

These charges are then converted 
into digital numbers that the camera 
uses to re-create the image you origi- 
nally captured while looking through 
the viewfmder or at the LCD (liquid- 
crystal display). Red, green, and blue 
filters help the camera properly recog- 
nize colors in an image by recording 
the light that matches those filters 
(and the many combinations that 
form other colors). 

When the image re-creation is 
complete, the camera transfers the 
image to a memory buffer area that 
holds the image for a short period be- 
fore transferring it to the internal 
memory or a removable flash mem- 
ory card. This buffer lets you snap 
pictures in relatively quick succession, 
instead of waiting for each picture to 
transfer to memory. 

TIP #1 > As you snap pictures, the 
camera's internal memory or flash 
memory card stores the pictures until it 
becomes full. At this point you can 
transfer the pictures to your PCs hard 
drive via a USB or a FireWire connec- 
tion and delete the pictures stored on 
the camera or flash card. When the 
pictures are on your PC, you can use 
photo -editing software to touch them 

up (if necessary), a benefit that makes 
digital cameras far more useful than 
film cameras for many users. 

From here, the possibilities for 
your digital pictures are nearly end- 
less. You can print them using a spe- 
cial type of paper (your printer will 
likely recommend one), and you can 
do it at home using an affordable 
color inkjet printer. TIP #2 > Some 
printers even let you connect your 
camera directly to the printer. If you 
don't want to print your photos at 
home, send the image files to an on- 
line printing service that will send 
back photos printed on high-quality 
paper. You also can email photos to 
friends and family, upload them to 
Web sites, create digital slideshows, 
screen savers, and more. 

Candid Cameras 

Most digital cameras in the sub- 
$500 range are point-and-shoot 
models, meaning they have a perman- 
ently attached lens and show a con- 
tinuous, real-time image on the LCD. 
There are point-and-shoot cameras 
well above the $500 price point, but as 
you reach this higher end, you'll also 
see SLR (single-lens reflex) digital 
cameras. These cameras have inter- 
changeable lenses and reflect the in- 
coming light in such a way that the 
scene viewed by the user (via the 
viewfinder) is the same as what's 
framed by the lens. 

TIP #3 > The design of a digital SLR 
allows for extremely quick shooting, 
thanks to the lack of shutter lag time 
(the shutter opens and closes to allow 
light into the camera), 
whereas a point-and- 
shoot camera almost al- 
ways suffers from a slight 
delay. However, an SLR 
camera doesn't let you 
use the LCD as a view- 
finder like a point-and- 
shoot camera does, and 

SLR cameras are generally bigger 
and bulkier. TIP #4 > Even so, SLR 
cameras provide better image quality 
and more convenient power options. 
SLR cameras are famous for their 
wealth of manual options, but many 
of today's point-and-shoot cameras 
also include plenty of manual op- 
tions in addition to their usual auto- 
matic functions. 

SLR and point-and-shoot models 
are the two most common types of 
digital cameras, but another type 
known as the rangefinder is now 
emerging. TIP #5 > Digital rangefinder 
cameras focus on images using an 
optical system and a separate view- 
finder. Often used in cameras prior to 
the 1970s, the rangefinder method al- 
lows for quieter, slimmer cameras that 
can accommodate smaller, more effec- 
tive wide-angle lenses. Because the ap- 
peal of digital rangefinder cameras is 
generally limited to enthusiasts, the 
choices are still extremely limited. (At 
the time of this writing, only one was 
available on the market: the Epson 
Rangefinder R-Dl.) 

Be An Informed Shopper 

Because digital cameras actually 
function like tiny computers, they 
offer the ultimate in photographic 
flexibility. But to effectively take ad- 
vantage of that flexibility, it pays to 
know the basic terms and functions 
surrounding digital cameras because 
they can have an immense effect 
on the way you approach the buy- 
ing process, as well as the way you 
approach photography. 

Although they work in very different ways, digital cameras 
often look similar to their film-based counterparts. 

Smart Computing /July 2005 59l 


Resolution. One of the primary 
aspects of a digital camera is its 
megapixel rating. TIP #6 > You will 
notice that, in general, the higher 
the megapixel rating is, the more ex- 
pensive the camera. This rating mea- 
sures the camera's resolution, where 
each megapixel equals approximately 
1 million pixels (1,048,576 pixels, to 
be precise). Therefore, a 4MP (mega- 
pixel) camera can shoot pictures of 
up to 4 million pixels (or more accu- 
rately, 4,194,304 pixels). 

TIP #7 > This megapixel rating also is 
a direct reflection of the size of pictures 
the camera can shoot. A camera set to 
shoot pictures at 2MP will produce 
images with a resolution of 1,600 x 
1,200 pixels, which equals approxi- 
mately 2 million pixels. In terms of 
picture size, this resolution will let 
you print a high-quality 4- x 6-inch 
print. TIP #8 > As the resolution in- 
creases, so does the ability to print 
larger high-quality pictures. For ex- 
ample, at 4MP, you can print high- 
quality 8- x 10-inch pictures. 

However, these ratings aren't neces- 
sarily a firm rule. For instance, you can 
still print good-quality 8- x 10-inch 
pictures using a camera set at 2MP. 

Although manufacturers advertise 
their cameras' highest megapixel rat- 
ings, most cameras let you adjust the 
resolution downward. TIP #9 > Higher 
resolutions do allow larger pictures, but 
they also require more storage space. 
Thus, if you re taking pictures that you 
intend only to email, you can use a 
lower resolution and store more pic- 
tures on your camera's memory. 
Nonetheless, many digital photogra- 
phers use the highest convenient set- 
ting possible, so they always have the 
option to print large photos from the 
snapshots they take. 

Picture modes. Most point-and- 
shoot digital cameras feature multiple 
picture modes, each of which is suit- 
able for a specific shooting condition. 
Each mode changes different settings 
on the camera to accommodate vari- 
ances in light and other factors that 
can affect the picture. For example, the 

Most digital cameras include a small 
LCD (liquid-crystal display) that lets you 
tweak menu settings and view the subject you're shooting in real-time. 

Nikon Coolpix 4600 ($199.95; www includes settings for 
Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sun- 
set, Dusk/Dawn, Night Landscape, 
Museum, and more. Other cameras 
feature similar settings. 

TIP #10 > If you re not comfortable 
tweaking the manual settings on a 
camera and don't have any intentions 
of learning how to do so, it's a good 
idea to choose a camera that includes 
as many picture modes as you think 
you 11 need. The actual differences 
among picture mode are sometimes 
negligible, such that you might dis- 
cover single modes that work well in 
several conditions. The more pictures 
you take, the better you'll get at 
finding proper lighting conditions 
and effective angles. If you do eventu- 
ally get the urge to tweak some 
manual settings, rest assured that 
most cameras allow a certain decent 
degree of tweakability. And with dig- 
ital cameras, you can snap multiple 
shots with no major commitment 

Unlike film cameras, digital cameras store 

their photos on memory cards that can hold 

hundreds of digital pictures. 

(like you'd have with mandatory film 

When you peruse the settings 
menu on a digital camera's LCD, 
you'll typically see a horde of different 
options for things such as white bal- 
ance, exposure control, sensitivity, 
shutter speed, and aperture. These 
settings are tweaked automatically 
when you select different picture 
modes, but as you progress toward 
more advanced photography meth- 
ods, you'll want to modify these 
options individually. 

TIP #11 > By varying the size of the 
camera's aperture (the hole in the 
camera lens that permits light to enter 
and reach the camera's sensor), you 
can control depth of field. By control- 
ling or changing the depth of field (or 
the zone of sharp focus) of a subject, 
you can obtain the most appropriate 
focus for your particular subject. Or 
if you want to capture a sharp image 
of a subject in motion or purposely 
introduce blur to exaggerate that 
motion, you could use the camera's 
shutter priority mode to change its 
shutter speed. 

Focus. Just like many point-and- 
shoot film cameras, digital cameras 
include autofocus systems that let 
you, well, point and shoot. Although 
these systems tend to work adequately 
in most conditions, there are times 
when you might want to manually 
adjust the focus, and most cameras 
will let you do so. Many cameras also 
include a macro focus function for 
close-up photography. 

60 July 2005 / 

Zoom. Like megapixels, zoom is an 
aspect you'll almost always see adver- 
tised boldly by camera manufacturers. 
Because the zoom function in digital 
cameras can differ from zoom in film 
cameras, it's important to understand 
these numbers and descriptions be- 
cause an advertised zoom number 
may not be what you're thinking it is. 

Most digital cameras include op- 
tical zoom, which changes the focal 
length to magnify the subject. When 
you use optical zoom to "close in" on 
a subject, the image quality remains 
the same in the zoomed state as it is in 
the unzoomed state. However, many 
digital cameras also include digital 
zoom, which is vastly inferior to 

optical zoom. When using digital 
zoom, the camera actually crops the 
original, unzoomed image and magni- 
fies it. If you magnify a digital picture 
on your computer, you'll notice that 
the image quality worsens as the image 
grows, and the same principal applies 
to the digital zoom on cameras. Digital 
zoom isn't very useful for taking snap- 
shots you need at a high image quality, 
but if you don't mind small pictures, 
the function can be somewhat useful. 

When shopping for a digital camera, 
you should always look for the optical 
zoom number because you'll be using 
that type of zoom primarily. TIP #12 > 
Be careful that the number you see 
isn't referring to combined zoom (both 

File Format Alternatives 


The next time your 
friend sends you a 
picture of himself in JPEG 
(Joint Photographic 
Experts Group) format, 
write back and say, 
"You're not all there." 

After all, he isn't all 
there, thanks to the 
compression technology 
of the JPEG algorithm. 
JPEG is by far the most 
popular file format used 
by digital cameras, but 
most cameras give you 
the option to use other 
file formats, as well. 

When you take a pic- 
ture with your digital 
camera, the camera gen- 
erates three bytes of data 
for every pixel. Therefore, 
if your camera is set at 
4MP (megapixels), and 
each megapixel equals 
1,048,576 pixels, each pic- 
ture will generate 
12,582,912 bytes, which is 
about 12 million bytes 
(or 12MB) of data, or 
more if the camera is 
adding data to enhance 

the image quality. To save 
pictures in this raw data 
form, digital cameras use 
the RAW or NEF format. 

A digital camera using 
one of these formats 
won't apply in-camera 
processing to the data 
(although the software 
used to display the im- 
ages can use your indi- 
cated settings during the 
display). So, using these 
formats lets photogra- 
phers view their original 
photos in "pure" form, 
and then they can fine- 
tune various aspects 
such as white balance, 
contrast, saturation, 
and others. 

On the downside: 
These raw data formats 
not only require enor- 
mous amounts of 
memory space, but 
they're also difficult to 
work with. Most photog- 
raphers opt to use the 
JPEG format, which uses 
lossy compression to re- 
move repetitive pixels in 

an image and recreates 
the image in a smaller 
size. Although JPEG pic- 
tures lose some of their 
original data, they gener- 
ally require much less 
storage space and are 
easier to work with than 
raw formats. Most digital 
cameras use JPEG as their 
default file format. 

Some digital cameras 
use another compres- 
sion format known as 
TIFF (Tagged Image File 
Format). Unlike JPEGs, 
TIFFs can use lossless 
compression, which 
means that they pre- 
serve all of the original 
data. As a result, TIFF 
files are far larger than 
JPEG files (and larger 
than raw format files). 
Some enthusiasts dis- 
miss the TIFF format as 
ineffective because high- 
resolution JPEG files can 
be similar in image 
quality and raw format 
files are smaller and 
more versatile. I 

optical and digital) or just digital. In 
most cases a camera's optical zoom 
number is far lower than its digital 
zoom number. 

Video, sound, and more. Although 
the primary function of digital cam- 
eras is still photography, most digital 
cameras can do more. For example, 
many cameras can capture video, and 
some even include functions such as 
voice recording, music playback, and 

However, even the best video- 
image quality shot offered by today's 
digital cameras can't match the 
quality of video shot by actual video 
cameras. TIP #13 > Digital cameras 
often produce video with a very low res- 
olution and no sound, and even this 
type of video can quickly consume 
storage space. Some cameras limit the 
length of each video clip you can 
shoot, while others let you shoot until 
you have no more room on your 
camera or memory card. 

Video, sound, and music features 
are nifty additions to digital cameras, 
but they shouldn't be major purchase 
criterions. TIP #14 > If you really need 
something that can shoot video, record 
sound, or play MP3s on a regular basis, 
you'll be much happier buying dedi- 
cated devices built to perform these ac- 
tions. The primary job of digital 
cameras is to take photos, and as 
such, manufacturers put much more 
emphasis on picture-taking technolo- 
gies than any others. 

Take The Plunge 

Digital cameras come in many 
shapes, sizes, and prices, so there's 
something for everyone. If you're not 
quite comfortable ditching your film 
camera to dive completely into dig- 
ital, there's no reason you need to — 
just buy one of the less expensive 
digital cameras to see what you can do 
with it. But be warned: Many photog- 
raphers who go digital never go back 
to film (and they're happier for it). II 

by Christian Perry 

Smart Computing / July 2005 61 


Digital Camera Roundup 

We compiled information on some of the top cameras and divided them into three categories: Entry-Level Cameras, 
Midrange Cameras, and SLR (single-lens reflex) Cameras. When available, we listed MSRPs (manufacturers' suggested 
retail prices); otherwise, we listed estimated street prices, as indicated by asterisks (*) following the prices. (NOTE: The 
MP [megapixel] rating is a measurement of a camera's resolution.) 

Entry-Level Cameras 

... r l{ 



Canon PowerShot A510 


• 3.2MP 

• 4X optical zoom 

■ 1.8-inch LCD 

• 13 shooting modes, 
including foliage and 

Nikon Coolpix 4600 


www.n i kon 

• 4MP 

• 3X optical zoom 

• 1.8-inch LCD 

• 16 scene modes, 

Kodak EasyShare DX7440 



* 4X optical zoom 

• 2.2-inch LCD 

• 22 scene and color 
modes, including beach 
and party 

Pentax Optio S40 


• 4MP 

• 3X optical zoom 

• 1.6-inch LCD 

• 10 picture mode 
settings, including food, 
surf, and snow 

Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z10 


. 3.2MP 

• 8X optical zoom 

• 1.5-inch LCD 

• Six scene modes, 
including sports 
and sunset 

Midrange Cameras 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom Canon PowerShot SD500 Casio EXILIM EX-P700 





. 7.2MP 

•7.1 MP 



» 4X optical zoom 

» 2.5-inch LCD 

» Dual memo ry slot 

SLR Cameras 

> 4X op tical wide zoom 

• 3X optical zoom 

1.8-inch LCD 

. 2-inch LCD 

• Dual media slot 

> Direct print ability 

• Color customization 
while shooting 

» 4X optical zoom 

. 2-inch LCD 

• Automatic macro 

Panasonic Lumix DMC- 

• 5MP 

• 12X optical zoom 

» 2-inch LCD 

• Optical image stabilizer 

Nikon D70 


www.n i kon 

• 6.1 MP 

•1.8-inch LCD 

• Five-area autofocus 

Canon EOS 350D Digital Rebel XT SLR 
$999* with zoom lens kit; 
$899* without the kit 


• 1.8-inch LCD 

• 3-frame-per-second shooting ■ Direct print a bility 

» 3-frame-per-second shooting 

Pentax *ist DS SLR 


■6.1 MP 

■ 2-inch LCD 

• 11 -point autofocus 

Olympus E-1 SLR 


■ 5.5MP 

■ 1.8-inch LCD 

• Dust-free imaging 

» 2.8-frame-per-second shooting • 3-frame-per-second shooting 

62 July 2005 / 



Portable Audio for iPods 

AC & Battery Powered 

XdB™- enhanced Subwoofer 

High Efficiency Digital Amplification 

Wireless Remote 

Built-in iPod® Cradle 

Neodymium Drivers 

Onboard Digital Signal Processor 

S-Video Output 

Universal Power Adapter 

Auxiliary Input Jack 

right side 



\nfrocl\iC'\ns r -the- How mMotion iM7. &roa+ Aruoliq, VwVizzod MoMrhi 

Altec Lansing- 


©2005 Altec Lansing Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved. iPod is a trademark of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. 

1 I 

\v IImItIII 

From the moment you walked out of the store with 
your spanking new digital camera, you haven't 
stopped snapping pictures — until today. The camera 
indicates that there's no more room for additional 
pictures, so now what? 

One of the major advantages of a digital camera is its 
ability to interface with a PC. When you fill your digital 
camera with pictures, you can move the pictures off your 
camera and onto your PC's hard drive. Because your PC can 
hold much more data than your camera, the PC provides a 
convenient storage place for your pictures where you can or- 
ganize and manipulate them exactly as you'd like. 

Transferring pictures between your camera and PC is 
simple, but if you're new to the process, it's easy to get con- 
fused. There are two basic methods for the transfer, and the 
method you choose should depend on a couple of factors, 
including the number of pictures you'll be regularly transfer- 
ring and the equipment you own (or don't own). 

Direct Connect 

If you don't plan to take many pictures with your digital 
camera, or if you don't want to buy additional equipment to 
streamline the transfer of pictures, you can use a direct con- 
nection between the camera and your computer. Likewise, if 
you're using a cheaper camera that uses only internal memory 
and not a flash memory card, the direct connection is the only 
way you'll be able to transfer pictures. To use a direct connec- 
tion, you'll need to install the camera in Windows, just like 
you'd install any other hardware device. 

Although Windows (particularly Windows XP) will recog- 
nize and install the drivers automatically for most recent 
cameras when you connect the camera to the PC, it won't 
recognize them all. TIP #1 > If you re trying to install an older 
digital camera (or using an older OS [operating system]), your 
chances of encountering installation problems will be even 
greater. You can take the risk and connect the camera to your 
PC to see if Windows will recognize it, but if it doesn't, you 
might have problems if Windows tries to install the camera 
using drivers that it thinks will match the device. 

To avoid this trouble, first use the installation CD in- 
cluded with your digital camera to install the drivers and 
software, and then check the manufacturer's Web site for 
updates. If you bought a used camera that didn't include a 
CD, check the manufacturer's site to find the appropriate 
drivers and software. 

Q Back - ( 
Address |>—'K:\ 

After the software installation, con- 
nect your camera to your PC using 
the USB or FireWire cable that came 
with it. One end of the cable attaches 
to a tiny slot on the camera, and the 
other end slides into an open USB or 
FireWire port on your PC. 

TIP #2 > If you re using USB to 
transfer your pictures, note that most 
newer cameras support USB 2.0, which is 
much faster than the older USB 1.1 stan- 
dard. If your PC supports only USB 1.1 
but your camera supports USB 2.0, you 
can still transfer your pic- 
tures using USB, but the 
transfer will use only USB 1.1 
speeds. If you want the faster 
USB 2.0 speeds, you can up- 
grade your PC by installing a 
USB 2.0 PCI (Peripheral 
Component Interconnect) 
expansion card, which will 
provide several USB 2.0 ports 
that you can use. TIP #3 > 
FireWire delivers speeds com- 
parable with USB 2.0, but 
most digital cameras use the 
USB interface. 

After you connect the 
camera, open its software 
and use it to transfer your 
photos from your camera to 
the PC. These programs typ- 
ically place the photos in a 
default folder, such as My 
Pictures in the My Doc- 
uments folder, or in a folder 
created within the software's 
own folder hierarchy. If you want 
your pictures stored in a different 
folder, look for an option that lets you 
change the default folder, but be aware 
that changing this location could im- 
pact certain program functions. 

TIP #4 > A major downside to trans- 
ferring pictures using a direct connection 
is that your camera needs to be turned on 
during the process. Depending on the 
number and size of your pictures, the 
batteries in your camera could drain 
rather quickly, so if you need to shoot 
more photos immediately after trans- 
ferring pictures, have a fresh set of bat- 
teries ready to go. If you have a power 



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In Windows 
Explorer, your card 
reader will appear 
as a removable 
storage device or 
with a customized 
name, depending 
on the memory 
card you insert. 

cord for your camera, it's a good idea 
to use that option when transferring 
pictures to preserve batteries. 

Read This 

Even if you don't plan to snap 
hordes of shots regularly, the other op- 
tion for transferring pictures is so con- 
venient that you might still decide to 
use it. TIP #5 > Memory card readers, 
which connect to a USB port or are a 
built-in component of some PCs, can ac- 
cept the flash memory cards 
used in most of today's digital 
cameras. Although this prob- 
ably sounds like an addi- 
tional step over connecting 
your camera directly to your 
PC, this transfer method is 
far easier and more powerful. 
Because most PCs don't 
have their own memory card 
readers, you'll likely need to 
buy an external reader. For 
about $20 (or more, de- 
pending on the reader and 
memory type), you can buy 
a memory card reader from 
an electronics store. TIP #6 > 
Before you start shopping for 
a card reader, make sure you 
know what memory card type 
your camera uses. Many use 
CF (CompactFlash), but some 
use SD (Secure Digital), 
MMC (MultiMediaCard), 
SM (SmartMedia), or Sony 
Memory Stick. Fujifilm and Olympus 
cameras use the somewhat less popular 
xD (eXtreme Digital) cards. 

To use a card reader, plug it into a 
USB or FireWire port (the same USB 
1.1, USB 2.0, and FireWire transfer 
speed rules apply). Most readers don't 
require an external power supply, so 
you won't need to connect anything 
else. Right-click My Computer and 
click Explore to open Windows Ex- 
plorer, and the reader should appear in 
the list of drives as a removable disk. 

When you remove the memory card 
from your camera and insert it in the 
card reader, the name of the drive in 

Windows Explorer could change to re- 
flect the name of the card's manufac- 
turer (such as LEXAR MEDIA). When 
you click the drive to view its contents, 
you'll see the folders that hold your 
pictures. Your camera names these 
folders, so don't be surprised if the 
folder names look rather cryptic. 

TIP #7 > Once you see your pictures 
in a list via Windows Explorer, you can 
manipulate each picture just as you 
would work with any other image file. 
For example, you can double-click 
each picture to view it, open the pic- 
ture using a graphics-editing pro- 
gram, move the picture to a folder on 
your hard drive, or even delete the 
picture. When you finish managing 
the pictures on the memory card, you 
can pull the card out of the card 
reader and insert it back in your 
camera. (You may wish to delete the 
images from the card first. To do so, 
simply select an image or a range of 
images and press Delete.) 

Transfer Away 

Unless your camera doesn't use 
memory cards, a card reader is the best 
choice for transferring photos to your 
PC. The money you'll spend on a 
reader is well worth the hassle you'll 
avoid while having to connect the 
camera directly to the PC. A direct con- 
nection also limits you to the camera's 
PC software, whereas a card reader lets 
you access the pictures directly in 
Windows Explorer. 

If you opt for the card reader, you're 
free to use any software you like for or- 
ganizing and manipulating your pic- 
tures. TIP #8 > Several excellent free 
picture management programs are avail- 
able, including Picasa 2, which you can 
download from If 
you're using a direct connection, you 
can still use third-party software to 
manage your pictures, but the process 
might be complicated if the camera's 
software stores the pictures in a loca- 
tion that's tough to find. II 

by Christian Perry 

Smart Computing / July 2005 651 

Kit Ml 

reate Your Own Digital Darkroom 

The days of snapping rolls of film and hoping 
that at least some of them turn out well are 
over. With a digital camera and a decent image- 
editing program it is possible to salvage pictures 
that otherwise would be destined for the trash can, en- 
hance photos that were good to begin with, and unleash 
limitless creative possibilities with your snapshots. 

Digital images are stored using a series of ones and zeros 
that the computer can understand, and image-editing soft- 
ware lets users manipulate these digits to create a variety of 
effects. Adjusting the brightness and contrast of pictures is 
as simple as moving a few slider bars, but editing goes far 
deeper than that. You can focus on one portion of the 
image, fixing problems with red-eye, for example, without 
disturbing the other parts of the picture. You can cut, crop, 
and reassemble pictures to give them a professional look, 
or apply filters that do everything from enhancing color to 
turning the image into a pointillist painting. 

Selecting Software 

While most image editors have the same basic func- 
tionality, some can automate common tasks that other- 
wise require several tedious steps, and the best programs 
provide numerous special effects filters and tools, like 
natural media brushes, that let you turn simple pictures 
into works of art. 

You don't have to spend any money to get your feet wet 
with digital image editing, although the commercial pack- 
ages offer better features and support. TIP #1 > The best free 
tools we've worked with are PhotoFiltre (www. photo and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program; 2, which make it easy to resize, crop, and 
make basic edits to a variety of image formats. We especially 
like GIMP 2 because of its power and slick interface. 

Although we tested several terrific commercial alter- 
natives, including CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 ($399; and Ulead PhotoImpact 10 ($89.99;, two stood out as the best for begin- 
ning- to intermediate-level users. TIP #2 > Adobe's 
Photoshop Elements 3 ($99.99; has an 
intuitive interface and automates the most common editing 
tasks, yet still lets more advanced users make a wide variety 
of manual adjustments. Our other favorite, Jasc Software's 
Paint Shop Pro 9 ($129; uses a more 
traditional interface but is still easy to use and extremely 

powerful, providing many options gen- 
erally only found in products costing 
several times as much. 

Whether you use a free package or 
opt for a more capable commercial al- 
ternative, there are a few basic editing 
techniques that help make your pic- 
tures look better and also make them 
easier to share. 

Resize Images 

Today's digital cameras take pic- 
tures that are very large, both in terms 
of file size and physical size. This 
is great for printing but bad for 
emailing or posting on a Web site be- 
cause the files are so large and the pic- 
tures are too big to fit on a typical 
computer monitor. 

Digital cameras let you take care of 
this by selecting a smaller resolution 
(the measure of a picture's width com- 
pared to its height) when snapping 
photos. TIP #3 > For the best results, 
leave the camera on its highest- quality 

the main selection window, click 
File, click Open, find and click the 
picture you want to resize, and click 
Open. Expand the Image menu, ex- 
pand Resize, and click Resize Image. 
Leave all of the settings at their de- 
faults, but enter a value of 1024, 800, 
or 640 in the Width box (the smaller 
the number, the smaller the final pic- 
ture is). The Height value is auto- 
matically entered based on what you 
type, so click OK, click File, click 
Save As, give the new file a different 
name as the original (so that the 
original picture is not affected), and 
click Save. 

To resize in Paint Shop Pro, open 
the File menu, click Open, select the 
picture you want to resize, and click 
Open. Expand the Image menu, click 
Resize, and use the drop -down menu 
in the Pixel Dimensions section to se- 
lect Pixels. Now enter 1024, 800, or 
640 in the Width box in the Pixel 
Dimensions section, click OK, expand 
the File menu, click Save As, and save 

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) 2 is 
free, powerful, and surprisingly easy to use, 
thanks to its user-friendly interface. 

When resizing images, try to stick with values 
that are exactly 1/2 or 1/4 of the original size 
for the best picture quality. 

setting and let your image editor do the 
work of shrinking pictures for easier 
sharing. As a rule of thumb, reduce 
image size to 1,024 x 768, 800 x 600, or 
640 x 480, which are standard Desktop 
resolutions for smaller monitors. 

To do this in Photoshop Elements 
3, click Edit And Enhance Photos on 

the smaller picture using a different 
name than the original uses. 

Crop Pictures 

Cropping works much like taking 
a pair of scissors to a standard photo, 
and it can make even a mundane image 

look very good by eliminating unneces- 
sary portions of the picture while re- 
taining the dramatic elements. 

TIP #4 > To crop a picture in Photo- 
shop Elements 3, click Edit And Enhance 
Photos on the main selection window, 
open the picture, and click the icon for 
the cropping tool on the left side of the 
screen (it looks like a square with a back- 
slash through it). Use the mouse to 
draw a square or rectangle around the 
portion of the image you want to keep, 
and when you release the mouse 
button the portion of the image that 
will be deleted appears in gray. To fi- 
nalize the crop, double-click inside the 
square you just drew, and be sure to 
save the cropped image under its own 
name. In Paint Shop Pro, open the 
image and follow the same steps. 

Eliminate Red-Eye 

A major problem with most con- 
sumer-level cameras, digital or other- 
wise, is that the flash is located very 
close to the lens. When the flash 
fires, the intense light bounces 
off of the back of subject's eyes, 
causing a reflection that shows 
up in the final image in the 
form of red-eye. TIP #5 > You 
can often avoid red-eye by telling 
people to not look directly into 
the camera lens or by connecting 
an external flash unit to the 
camera, but when you re stuck 
with pictures that exhibit red- 
eye, an image editor lets you 
easily correct it. 

In Photoshop Elements 3, 
click Quickly Fix Photos on 
the main menu, open the pic- 
ture that has the red-eye 
problem, and click the Red Eye 
Removal icon on the left (un- 
derneath the Cropping tool). Use the 
Pupil Size slider to select the approx- 
imate size the subject's pupil covers 
relative to the entire eye, and then 
draw a square around the eye; the 
correction is applied automatically. 
Repeat this on the subject's other eye 
if necessary. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 671 

In Paint Shop Pro open the photo, 
click the Red Eye Removal icon, press 
and hold the Navigate icon in the 
pop-up window that appears, and 
move the selection square over the 
subject's eyes. Once the eye is centered 
release the mouse, and the eye appears 
in the left and right preview windows. 
Now draw a box over the eye in the 
left window so that the circle in the 
middle of the box completely covers 
the red portions of the eye, let go, and 
you'll see a preview of what the final 
output will look like in the right-hand 
window. Reposition or resize the box 
on the left if necessary, and then 
select a Hue and Color from the 
appropriate drop-down menus 
that match the subject's eye. You 
can experiment with the other 
settings for finer control, but 
that usually isn't necessary. 

Enhance Picture Quality 
With Levels 

Both Paint Shop Pro 9 and 
Photoshop Elements 3 have 
one-click photo enhancement 
tools that apply a variety of 
common adjustments to pic- 
tures. TIP #6 > One of the best 
ways to really make your images 
pop is to manually adjust the 
color distribution levels using a graph 
called a histogram. No matter how 
good your pictures look, tuning the 
levels usually makes them look better. 
It's like removing a layer of gray haze 
from your images, letting colors shine 
through without losing any detail. 

Using levels is vastly superior to 
simply adjusting brightness and con- 
trast sliders, but you need to know a 
little bit about what the histogram does 
to get the most out of the tool. The his- 
togram graphically depicts the dis- 
tribution of black, white, and gray 
throughout the image, mapping black 
on the far left, gray in the middle, and 
white on the far right. Most pictures 
look best when the histogram graph 
touches each edge of the scale, so that 
the darkest parts of the picture are 

completely black and the lightest parts 
of the picture are pure white. TIP #7 > 
Pictures with graphs that leave gaps on 
both ends of the histogram tend to have 
poor contrast, meaning that both the 
darkest and the lightest portions of the 
image are gray. Histogram adjustment 
tools let you modify the graph so that the 
gray areas are redistributed properly and 
contrast is restored. 

To access the Levels tool in Photo- 
shop Elements, load a picture, expand 
the Enhance menu, expand Adjust 
Lighting, and click Levels. Move the 
white arrow directly under the graph to 

When cropping pictures in Photoshop Elements, 
you'll notice that the portions slated for deletion 
are grayed out in the Editor window. 

image editor can perform, but be sure 
to explore the features of any software 
you use to tap its full potential. 

TIP #8 > Paint Shop Pro 9 comes 
with a collection of tools designed to 
correct typical problems common to 
digital images, including distortion 
from the lens and digital camera 
"noise" that often appears during 
nighttime shots that have long expo- 
sure times. 

If you take a picture of tall build- 
ings without using the camera's zoom 
feature, with most consumer-level 
cameras, the buildings will appear to 

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Paint Shop Pro's red-eye reduction tool is extremely 
configurable, which makes it more difficult to use 
than the one that comes with Photoshop Elements. 

the left until it points to the first black 
portion of the graph, and do the same 
thing to the black arrow, but moving it 
to the right. Don't do anything with the 
gray arrow in the middle of the slider. 

In Paint Shop Pro, open your pic- 
ture, expand the Adjust menu, expand 
Brightness And Contrast, and click 
Histogram Adjustment. Remove the 
check from the Overlay Result Hist- 
ogram box (the overlay looks neat, but 
just gets in the way of this type of 
work), and move the black-and-white 
arrows so they point to the first black 
areas on each side of the graph. 

Explore Special Features 

The tips provided in this article 
represent tasks that nearly any digital 

bend towards the center of the pic- 
ture. Using Paint Shop Pro's Barrel 
Distortion Correction tool (accessible 
with one click on the main program 
toolbar), it is possible to make them 
look straight again. 

These types of tools let you easily 
do things that are a chore for even 
the most experienced darkroom wiz- 
ards. Make a few copies of your fa- 
vorite images and experiment with 
them, so you can test all of a pro- 
gram's features without destroying 
your precious memories in the 
process. Once you learn the me- 
chanics of editing, your only limita- 
tion is your imagination. II 

by Tracy Baker 

68 July 2005 / 

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The Perfect Experience 



Pictures are made for sharing, and digital images 
make that task much easier — as long as you 
know how to deal with the hardware and soft- 
ware that is needed to print, manipulate, and 
email your precious memories. Fortunately, printing, or- 
ganizing, and sharing digital images properly is easier 
than you think. All it takes is a few simple rules and a few 
useful applications, and you'll never again hear, "When 
are you going to send us those pictures?" 

Printing Tips 

Modern photo printers can churn out pictures that 
are indistinguishable from those you'd pay for at the 
local photo processing center, but there are several 
things to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of 
your hardware. 

Know your camera's settings. You can't get a good 
print from a bad photo, and properly configuring your 
digital camera can save you a lot of frustration and a 
lot of wasted ink and paper. Even the simplest digital 
cameras let you choose from multiple resolutions, and 
understanding how this setting works is vital. 

Digital cameras capture images using a grid of sensors. 
Each square in the grid is called a pixel (picture element), 
and resolution is the measure of the number of horizontal 
rows of pixels compared to the number of vertical columns 
of pixels. For example, an image with a resolution of 640 x 
480 fits in a grid that is 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall, 
meaning there are 307,200 total pixels in the picture. 

TIP #1 > A good rule of thumb is to shoot for around 300 
pixels of resolution per inch of printed photo. For example, to 
get clear 4- x 6-inch prints from your camera, select the reso- 
lution closest to 1,800 x 1,200 (which turns out to be 1,600 x 
1,200 on most cameras). Similarly, use the settings closest to 
2,100 x 1,500 for 5x7 photos and 3,000 x 2,400 for 8 x 10 
photos. Try not to exceed these suggested minimums for 
each picture size because most printers are very bad at 
scaling oversized images down to smaller sizes for printing. 

Also see if your camera supports multiple compres- 
sion settings (these usually are given labels such as Fine 
and SuperFine), and select the one that the manual says 
provides the best image quality. 

The downside to all of this is that higher resolutions 
and lower compression leads to much larger file sizes, so 
pictures will consume far more space on your camera's 

memory card. TIP #2 V The good news 
is that high-capacity memory cards are 
less expensive these days, and purchasing 
a 512MB or 1 GB card will let you store 
hundreds or even more than a thousand 
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts 
Group) images using a resolution of 
1,600 x 1,200 with minimal compression 
(and therefore minimal loss of quality). 

Know your printer's settings. Feed- 
ing quality images to a photo printer 
doesn't do any good if the printer isn't 
set up properly. TIP #3 > Settings vary 
from printer to printer, but generally you 
can access the printers advanced settings 
by launching Internet Explorer (or any 
software that produces prints), ex- 
panding the File menu, clicking Print, 
clicking the photo printer in the Select 
Printer box, and clicking Preferences. 
You also can open the Start menu and 
either click Control Panel or Printers 
And Faxes. Right-click your printer 
icon and select Properties. 

If there is a Media Type or Paper 
Type drop- down menu, select the type 
of photo paper you have instead of 



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Most programs automatically crop photos so 
they fit on a borderless print, as seen here, but 
the best software lets users manually choose 
how they want to crop a photo. 

Don't skimp on the paper. TIP #4 > 

Even the best photo printer will produce 
terrible output when you feed it cheap 
paper. Stick to glossy photo paper for 
prints that look like they just came from 
the store. Matte photo paper isn't 
shiny like glossy paper is, and it some- 
times makes a better choice for 8 x 10 
prints that you intend to frame. 

TIP #5 > You'll always get the best 
results by using paper from the same 
company that made your printer. Man- 
ufacturers formulate their ink and 
paper to work well with one another, 
and you take a big risk in terms of 
output quality by using paper from a 
different manufacturer. This is not to 
say that you can never get good re- 
sults using third-party paper; you can, 
but it may take a good deal of experi- 
menting and trial-and-error. 

If your printer supports borderless 
printing, be sure to buy borderless 
photo paper. This will cut a little off of 
the edges, so use the printer's software 
to get a preview and select the bits of 
the image that you want to leave out. 


Deiivery Option! 

n.ra o ■ 

Wal-Mart's online ordering service lets 
customers save on shipping charges if they 
can pick prints up at a local Wal-Mart store 
that has a one-hour photo processing center. 

first-party ink, and there's a good 
chance first- party ink will last longer 
if you keep an image for a long time. 

Know how to edit. Photo-editing 
software is terrific, but in the wrong 
hands, it can turn a brilliant photo into 
a mess that's unsuitable for printing. 

It's a sad fact, but most digital cam- 
eras take pictures that don't match up 
with the proportions of standard 4x6, 
5 x 7, or 8 x 10 photo paper. The cam- 
era's pictures are squarer in shape than 
the more rectangular final prints, and 
you have to take this into consideration 
when preparing images for printing. 

TIP #7 > Cutting off portions of a 
digital image so it matches up with 
the proportions of the final print is 
called cropping, and all photo-editing 
programs (and most OS printing 
wizards) provide templates that sim- 
plify this task. Just select the Crop 
feature in your printer's software and 
drag the template around the image 
until the portion you want to print 
is in the center of the box. Anything 
outside the cropping template border 

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From the Printing Preferences dialog box, 
make sure you select the type of paper 
that's loaded in your printer or your 
photos will suffer. 

leaving it on the Plain Paper setting. 
Next, make sure the printer is set to its 
highest- quality output setting (never 
use Draft mode for photo prints). Your 
printer probably has many other set- 
tings that automatically smooth images 
or correct color, but don't use them if 
you're printing an image that looks 
great or they may make it look worse. 

Use good ink. TIP #6> If you want 
the best possible performance from your 
printer, use ink that comes directly 
from the manufacturer. Some third- 
party inks are decent, but all of them 
run a higher risk of clogging and 
causing other problems than does 
manufacturer- supplied ink. They also 
may not precisely match the colors of 

won't be visible on the final print. 
(You also can do more sophisticated 
cropping by using your photo-editing 

Maintain Your Printer 

Printers continue to improve, but 
even the latest models require some 

Smart Computing / July 2005 711 

maintenance from time to time to 
avoid streaking or other blemishes on 
your photo prints. 

Remember the steps we gave to ac- 
cess the printer's settings through 
Internet Explorer? Follow those again, 
but this time look for a Maintenance 
tab or button and click it. 

TIP #8 > If colors are not printing di- 
rectly on top of one another or text looks 
fuzzy, use the Print Head Alignment 
tool, if one is available, to get everything 
lined up. If colors are streaking, blotches 
of color are appearing, or certain colors 
arent printing even though there is ink 
in the tank, it's likely the print nozzle is 
clogged with dried ink. Use the printers 
cleaning routine or nozzle check, if those 
options are available, to try to blast the 
crusted ink out of there. This uses up a 
lot of ink, so don't overuse it. 

Printing Alternatives 

Having control of your own digital 
darkroom is very liberating, but if you 
don't want to deal with the hassle or the 
bills that accrue from printing at home 
there are several ways to outsource your 
printing chores. TIP #9 > Online sites 
such as Shutterfly (, 
Kodak EasyShare Gallery (formerly 

Ofoto;, and even 
Wal-Mart ( gener- 
ally charge less than 25 cents per photo 
for high-quality 4x6 prints on glossy 
photo paper. 

We ordered 10 of the same test 
prints from these three companies and 
found that they all offer decent service 
for the price. In all cases, photos from 

Kodak photo but were rendered as a 
solid red splotch in the Shutterfly and 
Wal-Mart photos. The pictures from 
Wal-Mart also had slightly washed- 
out color compared to the other 
photos. In addition, even though we 
ordered glossies from Wal-Mart, the 
photographs we received had what 
amounted to a matte finish. 

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Photoshop Album 2.0 offers numerous terrific 
features that help its users organize and share 
photos, among other tasks. 

Kodak EasyShare Gallery had better 
color saturation and detail than the 
ones from Shutterfly or Wal-Mart. 

For example, in one of the test 
photos, ridges on the sleeve of a red 
knit shirt were clearly visible in the 

Web-Based Sharing 


Emailing pictures to 
people you know is 
great, but it takes a lot of 
time when you want to 
send a picture to mul- 
tiple recipients or send 
a large number of pic- 
tures. Web-based ser- 
vices that let you upload 
pictures to create online 
photo albums are much 
better suited for this 
task. They also have the 
benefit of being acces- 
sible from any computer 
with Internet access, 
without requiring 

downloading or in- 
stalling special software. 
The three services we 
ordered prints from all 
offer Web-based albums 
you can share with 
others, and many other 
companies offer similar 
services. Yahoo! Photos 
makes it easy to create 
albums that are either 
private or public, making 
it great for sharing family 
photos. Best of all, 
storage is unlimited 
(they're hoping you'll 

order prints from them). 
Snapfish (www.snap, recently ac- 
quired by HP, is another 
good online photo 
sharing (and printing) 
service with unlimited 
storage, and Flickr 
( is an- 
other popular choice 
with terrific organization 
and sharing features, but 
limits free account users 
to 200 total photos. 
Upgrading to unlimited 
storage and viewing 
costs $24.95 per year. I 

Bottom line? Kodak was the clear 
winner in terms of overall quality. 

All three of the services are easy to 
use and offer tools for making basic ad- 
justments to pictures, including crop- 
ping and red-eye reduction. All of them 
also let others view your photos online, 
about which you can learn more in the 
"Web-Based Sharing" sidebar. 

Sharing Pictures 

Not every photograph is worthy 
of printing, and even if it were, do- 
ing so would be extremely expensive. 
TIP #10 > Thanks to the Internet, how- 
ever, it's possible to share as many 
pictures as you like with as many 
people as you like for little or no 
money. All you need is the right soft- 
ware and some editing know-how. 

Resize. Although bigger is generally 
better when printing, the same isn't 
true when sharing photos intended to 
be viewed on a computer monitor. Use 
image- editing or organization software 
to make copies of your large pictures at 
resolutions of 1,024 x 768, 800 x 600, 

72 July 2005 / 

or even 640 x 480 and then share the 
smaller copies with other people. The 
smaller files are easier to attach and 
upload (more on those things next), 
and people will be able to see the entire 
image at once on their monitors. 

Use attachments. Attachments are 
files that are appended to emails, and 
you can use them to send pictures to 
other people via email much like you'd 
stuff a snapshot into an envelope along 
with a letter. Just use the attachment 
function of your email program or ser- 
vice, click the Browse or Attach but- 
tons, navigate to the picture you want 
to send, and click Open or Attach. 
Everyone you send that email to will 
get a copy of the picture. TIP #11 > If 
you use a standard format such as JPEG, 
your recipients will be able to open the 
image regardless of what image-viewing 
software they happen to have. 

Upload. Web-based sharing services 
abound (see the "Web-Based Sharing" 
sidebar), but you can't use them unless 
you know how to upload your photos. 
Uploading is the process of copying 
your files to another computer on the 
Internet so you or other people can ac- 
cess the files even when the computer 
storing the original files is turned off. 

Most Web-based services let users 
click Browse buttons that let them 
navigate to the folder on their com- 
puters where the pictures they want to 
upload are stored. Once there, double- 
click the icon associated with the pic- 
ture, add more pictures if necessary, 
and then click the Upload button. 
Don't turn off the computer or dis- 
connect from the Internet until the 
upload is complete or you'll have to 
start over from scratch. 

TIP #12 > The best services let you 
download software that integrates with 
your Web browser so you can simply 
drag and drop pictures to a window and 
they are then automatically uploaded. 
When uploading, be sure to check the 
site for limitations on individual file 
sizes, the number of pictures you are 
allowed to upload to the account, and 
the amount of time the pictures will 
stay there. Often you must pay a fee to 

HP's portable PhotoSmart 375 printer 
(1 99.99; allows for printing 
without the need for a PC. 

store large amounts of pic- 
tures or access other ad- 
vanced services. 

Pick The Right Software 

There are many software 
packages designed to help 
you organize and share photos, and 
we've tested several that work well. 
TIP #13 > One of the best free options is 
Google's Picasa 2 (, 
which has one of the best interfaces 
we've seen and is incredibly easy to use. 
The software automatically organizes 
pictures by date and comes with all 
the tools you need to perform basic 
edits, crop, resize for emailing, and 
automatically make attachments. 

If you want something more ro- 
bust, consider Adobe Photoshop 
Album 2.0 ($49.99; 
or Jasc's Paint Shop Photo Album 5 
($49.00; Both have 
more advanced editing and organiza- 
tion options than Picasa 2, and they 
make it very easy to share photos 
with other people. 

More Than Prints 

Now that you know how to print 
and share your photos, don't stop at 
simple prints and online galleries. 
TIP #14 > Take advantage of the var- 
ious services that are out there to 
create gifts for other people that incor- 
porate your pictures. You can put 
your picture on a box of chocolates 
at Dan's Chocolates (www. dans, add a snapshot of 
your puppy to a tote bag at Shut- 
terfly, or even slap your mug on a 
mug at the Kodak EasyShare Gal- 
lery site. The possibilities are practi- 
cally limitless, so put those photos to 
good use. II 

by Tracy Baker 

No PC? No Problem 


Want the benefits 
of digital cameras 
and photo printers but 
don't have (or wish to 
use) a PC? Sounds silly, 
but it's definitely pos- 
sible thanks to printers 
and in-store kiosks that 
interface directly with 
cameras or memory 
cards to print pictures. 
Basic models must op- 
erate with a compatible 
camera from the same 
manufacturer and use 
the camera's screen to 

display preview images 
before printing (Canon's 
PictBridge products are 
excellent examples). 
Fancier units and kiosks 
have their own inte- 
grated screens, so all you 
have to do is remove the 
memory card from your 
camera, insert it into a 
slot on the printer or 
kiosk, and then preview 
and print — all without 
interfacing with a PC or 
messing with editing 

The downside to 
these types of printers 
and kiosks is that they 
allow only for minimal 
editing. Another 
problem is that the tiny 
integrated screens don't 
really provide an accu- 
rate idea of how the 
printed picture will look. 
But if you want many of 
the benefits of digital 
images with few of the 
hassles, these are the 
best ways to do it. I 

Smart Computing / July 2005 73 

Organize Your Photos Into 
Groups & Albums 



xactly when did I take all of these photos? There 
must be thousands of them!" If you've had this 
type of thought lately, you're not alone. Digital 
cameras have made it easy and inexpensive to 
store treasured (and not-so-treasured) photos on a PC; in 
fact, some people say that it's much too easy. It's common 
to end up with so many graphics files on your hard drive 
that it's difficult to sort through them and find the ones 
you really need or are looking for at any moment in time. 
But we do have some good news. There are simple 
ways to organize your photos so you can find what you 
want, when you want it. We've found that the easiest 
way is to invest in an application that includes advanced 
image-organization features and does much of the work 
for you, so we've provided a peek at a few helpful appli- 
cations that fit into this category. But first, to directly ad- 
dress the issue of organization, let's start off with some 
tips about steps you can take on your own. 

The Basics Of Organization 

You can eliminate many future headaches in regards to 
graphics files' space consumption by asking yourself one 
question: "Do I really want all these photos transferred to 
my PC?" TIP #1 > Most of us love the ease with which dig- 
ital cameras let us take multiple photos, but after we've 
taken 15 shots of roughly the same subject in order to cap- 
ture the ideal photo, it helps to remember that by transfer- 
ring the one perfect photo to the PC and discarding the 
other 14, well save ourselves time in the long run. 

If the software you use to perform transfers gives you 
the option of transferring a selection of photos from the 
camera rather than all the pictures stored in memory, it 
will pay off if you take the time to use this option. Or, just 
delete the photos you don't want via your digital camera's 
commands before you connect the camera to your PC. 

TIP #2 > When you re transferring photos, it helps to place 
them in a "virtual inbox." Just as an email client's inbox 
lets you view new messages before you move certain ones 
to various labeled folders, you can treat the folder into 
which you initially transfer photos as an inbox. Use this 
inbox as the master vault from which you'll pull photos 
and move them to the categorized folders you either have 
already created or will soon create. 

TIP #3 > Keep in mind that you arent stuck with a default 
location, such as My Pictures, as your virtual inbox, either. 

74 July 2005 / 

For example, you can create a folder 
called Unsorted Photographs and use it 
as your virtual inbox. Right- click the 
Start button, click Explore to open 
Windows Explorer, and then select My 
Documents from the left pane. In the 
My Documents window, open the File 
menu, choose New, click Folder, and 
name the folder. How you change the 
destination location within the transfer 
software to Unsorted Photographs will 
depend on the program's features, but 
if you can't figure out how to change its 
default location, just treat the default 
location as the inbox itself. 

TIP #4 > Use Windows Explorer to 
create multiple folders. We created a 
folder in My Documents called Sorted 
Photographs, and within that folder, we 
created several subfolders, each titled 
with broad names, such as Family, 
Friends, Work, Grandma, and Vaca- 
tions. We even made a subfolder called 
Funny to store humorous photos. To 
populate these folders, select a photo in 
the Unsorted Photographs folder, open 
the Edit menu, click Move To Folder, 
select the folder into which you want to 
place the photo, and click Move. 

The basic organizational structure 
is set up, but now we've run into the 
issue of oddly named photos. Some 
programs bundled with digital cameras 
assign seemingly random names to pic- 
tures (HPIM0034, HPIM0048, etc.), 
while other programs create names out 
of dates (such as 12.13.04_005). Al- 
though you can often figure out where 
these names came from, it doesn't nec- 
essarily help you later as you're trying 
to remember what each photo depicts. 
TIP #5 > But you arent stuck with the 
software's naming system. If you dont 
know how to change the naming system, 
you can rename the photos from within 
Windows Explorer just as you would re- 
name any other file. Open the View 
menu and select Thumbnails (so you 
see smaller versions of the photos), 
right- click a file name, choose Rename, 
type the new name, and press ENTER. 
TIP #6 > If you want to use a date at the 
beginning of the name (a tactic that can 
help you sort photos), consider using a 

dating format that shows the year fol- 
lowed by the month followed by the day: 
2005/01/31. That way, the dates will 
truly be in chronological order. 

Software That Can Help 

Even if you're using many of the 
above techniques, some third-party 
apps can facilitate organization because 
of the extra features they provide. You 
may even have this type of software on 
your PC and not realize it. Microsoft 
Office 2003, for instance, includes a 
program called Microsoft Office Pic- 
ture Manager. In addition to its image- 
editing features, Picture Manager helps 
users organize photos with such tools 
as a handy search engine for images 
and shortcuts users can add to easily 
find all the photos stored on their PCs 

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Applications such as Adobe Photoshop Album 
2.0 provide additional organizational features 
via user-friendly interfaces. 


Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 
/photoshopalbum) also is primarily for 
organizing photos, but as befits an 
imaging giant like Adobe, the software 
is packed with features. The key one, in 
our opinion, is its ability to let you 
create tags for photos. Tags are little 
notes (think of them as sticky notes) 
you can attach to photos. Tags sit in the 
background, but you can easily search 
for them based on the information you 
enter in the tags. For example, if you 
have a collection of photos from your 

vacation to Hawaii, you can place the 
word "Hawaii" in each tag. 

In addition, Photoshop Album auto- 
matically tracks the date a photo was 
taken, so you don't have to input that 
information. Plus, the interface lets you 
see all of your PC's digital photos in 
one place, no matter where they're 
stored on your computer. 

Another popular photo organizer is 
Corel's Paint Shop Photo Album 5 
Deluxe Edition ($49; 
With this program, you probably won't 
need the transfer software bundled with 
your digital camera because Photo 
Album 5 works with almost any model 
and has an intuitive interface that lets 
you view photos via several options. 
The program also helps users search for 
photos that are organized by the dates 
they were taken and use keywords to 
quickly search for related photos. 

Of course, freeware fans should 
check out Picasa 2 (free; www.picasa 
.com). You can use Picasa 2 to locate all 
the digital images on your PC or just 
the ones in folders you specify, and the 
software presents them in a familiar, 
Windows Explorer-type interface. 

Picasa 2 sorts images by placing 
them into albums, and you can then 
drag and drop the files or use labels to 
create new albums. Picasa also includes 
some basic image-editing tools, such as 
cropping and straightening, though 
they're not as advanced as the tools in 
Photoshop Album and Paint Shop 
Photo Album 5 Deluxe Edition. 

Memories In Check 

No matter which program and/or 
technique you use to organize your 
photos, it will only prove useful if you 
stay consistent. Just a little effort is all it 
takes to create and maintain an organi- 
zational system that, in the end, will 
actually save you time, especially when 
you no longer need to sift through a 
collection of thousands just to find that 
one photo of your dog sitting on the 
seat of your daughter's tricycle. II 

by Heidi V.Anderson 

Smart Computing / July 2005 751 

We used PrintMaster 

Greeting Cards Deluxe 

to make our greeting 

cards. This software 

includes more than 

1 3,000 templates and 

75,000 graphics. 


a ' h 

fltfl Slii led 



Brand Hew mpct 

1 Ceimxe 

PC Project: 

It's In The Cards 

Design & Print Greeting Cards Via Your PC 

Most of us have suffered through a trip to the 
store to find the perfect greeting card for a spe- 
cial occasion. It often seems as though none of 
the cards are quite right. None of them express exactly 
what we want to say. If only we could design our own 
greeting cards. 

Thanks to many programs on the 
market, you can now create your own 
personalized greeting cards on your 
PC. One of the things we love most 
about computers is their potential to 
help us unleash our creativity. With 
the right combination of hardware 
and software, you can design unique 
cards and send personalized greetings 
to friends and family. 

Program Possibilities 

There are many greeting card pro- 
grams available. Among the most 
popular are ArcSoft's Greeting Card 
Creator ($39.99;, 
Broderbund's PrintMaster Greeting 
Cards Deluxe ($19.99; www.broder, and Nova Development's 
Greeting Card Factory Deluxe 4 

We used PrintMaster Greeting Cards 
Deluxe to make our greeting cards. 
This software includes more than 
13,000 templates and 75,000 graphics. 
From the main PrintMaster Greeting 
Cards Deluxe window, we had several 
options, including Personalize Ready- 
Made Project and Create Brand New 
Project. We clicked Personalize Ready- 
Made Project, so we could learn how 
the program worked before we de- 
signed a card from scratch. 

The Project Gallery window ap- 
peared. It's divided into two panes. In 

the left pane, you'll see several search 
options; in the right pane, you'll see 
thumbnail previews of cards that 
match your search criteria. From the 
Select Type Of Project drop-down 
menu, we selected Cards, Half-fold. 
This type of card folds in half once, 
just like a store-bought card. 

We wanted to make a child's 
birthday card, so under the Cards, 
Half-fold Project Type list, we clicked 
the plus sign (+) next to Birthday to 
expand the category. There are several 
subcategories; we clicked Grandchild. 
In the right pane, thumbnails of 
birthday cards for grandchildren ap- 
peared. We chose one called Dive Into 
Fun! by double- clicking its thumbnail. 

We were happy with the front of the 
card, which featured a cartoon dog 
wearing goggles and a snorkel and 
the greeting "For a Dear Grandson's 
Birthday." We wanted to edit the in- 
side of the card, though. The word 
"Front" appeared in the lower-left 
corner of the program's right pane, in- 
dicating we were viewing the front of 
the card. We clicked the Right Arrow 
button next to the word "Front" to 
view the inside of the card. 

We wanted to personalize the card 
by adding the child's name before the 
"Dive Into Fun!" message. We clicked 
Add Or Edit Text from the left pane, 
and from the resulting pop-up menu, 
we chose Add Headline. Headlines 

76 July 2005 / 

PC Project 

are just like card text, ex- 
cept that they are larg- 
er and more stylized. In 
the Enter Headline Text 
Here field, we typed the 
name Cooper followed 
by a comma. Next, we 
scrolled through thumb- 
nail examples of several 
headline styles until we 
found one that we liked; 
we selected it and then 
clicked OK. 

The word "Cooper" 
appeared, but it was too 
large and consumed both 
halves of the card, even obscuring the 
"Dive Into Fun!" message. So, we re- 
sized the headline text by clicking the 
small square in the upper- right corner 
of the text box and dragging it to resize 
the headline. When the word "Cooper" 
was the desired size, we clicked the 
center of the box and dragged it to the 
desired position above the "Dive Into 
Fun!" message. 

To add a little bit of color to the 
card, we clicked Apply Color Set from 
the left pane. The Color Sets dialog 
box let us customize the color of var- 
ious card elements, including the 
background and text. We also could 
choose from preset themes under the 
Saved Sets drop-down menu. For 
instance, the St. Patrick's Day set 

idi- s 

TH^re are n° 

Wr°Ng turNS. 

It also was easy to design a 
card from scratch. We chose 
a color set, added graphics, 
and inserted text. 

changes a card's back- 
ground to green, makes 
the text black, and colors 
headlines dark green. 
We chose the Summer 
set, which makes the 
background light green, 
the text black, and the 
headlines medium green. 
Then we clicked OK. 

We didn't like the 
green headline, so we 
clicked Apply Color Set 
again and clicked the 
Headline Font Color 
button. In the Color 
Palette dialog box, we clicked a 
shade of purple from the palette. 
We also chose a Blend Style option 
to make the headline's appearance 
more interesting. 

We clicked the Right Arrow icon 
from the lower-left corner of the right 
pane to view the back cover. The small 
text box that displayed said, "Es- 
pecially Made For You From." We 
double-clicked the text box, and a 
cursor appeared inside. We clicked to 
place the cursor at the end of the word 
"From" and pressed ENTER to move 
the cursor to the next line. Then we 
typed Grandma & Grandpa. 

Finally, we clicked Finish Project 
from the left pane. In the resulting 
dialog box, we clicked Select Save 

Project As and clicked Next. We chose 
a location, typed a name for the file, 
and clicked Save. 

Without Training Wheels 

For our next project, we designed a 
card from scratch without a template. 
From the left pane of PrintMaster 
Greeting Cards Deluxe, we clicked 
Pick Project and clicked Brand New. 
In the New Project dialog box, we 
chose Card, Quarter-fold and selected 
the Orientation (Tall or Wide) and 
Fold (Side or Top) settings. Then we 
clicked Finish. 

A blank page appeared in the right 
pane. We started our creative process 
by clicking Search Art & Photos from 
the left pane. We could narrow the 
search by choosing from the Select 
Featured Art And Photos drop-down 
menu, the Select Type Of Graphic 
drop-down menu, or the Choose 
Category For Graphic list. We clicked 
Pets. In the right pane, we scrolled 
through the graphics until we found 
one we liked. We chose Cat And 
Computer Mouse. As we did with the 
Cooper headline in our last card, we 
clicked the corners of the cat graphic 
to resize the image and dragged the 
picture into the desired position. We 
clicked the plus sign next to Crafts and 
clicked Sewing. We double-clicked 

We added the child's name as 
a headline to personalize the 
greeting inside the card. 

The Color Sets and Color Palette dialog boxes 
offer several options for customizing the 

We liked the card's appearance much better 
after adding a little bit of color to the design. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 77 

PC Project 


PrintMaster Greeting Cards Deluxe can print an 
instruction sheet that tells you how to feed the 
paper into your printer so that the inside of the 
card doesn't print upside down. 

the Two Balls Of Yarn graphic from 
the right pane. We resized the yarn 
illustration and moved it to the 
desired position. 

We could have added our 
own custom text to this card, 
but we decided instead to 
browse the program's Senti- 
ments list. To do this, we 
clicked Add Or Edit Text 
and Add Sentiment. We 
clicked the plus sign next 
to Encouragement in the 
left pane and clicked Sup- 
port. We used the scroll 
bar in the right pane to 
scroll through a list of witty and 
sentimental phrases. Finally, we double- 
clicked to choose the message: "There 
Are No Wrong Turns . . . Just Different 
Paths To Take." 

We positioned the "There Are No 
Wrong Turns . . ." text on our card 
and then highlighted the text. We used 
the toolbar's drop-down menus to se- 
lect a font and size for the text. When 
we viewed the inside of the card, we 
used the same procedures to format 
the text there, too. We clicked Apply 
Color Set and experimented until we 
found a color scheme we liked. When 

we finished, we clicked Finish Project, 
Save Project As, and Next. We named 
the file, chose a destination for it, and 
clicked Save. 

Our next step was to follow our 
software's guidelines for printing the 
cards we created. When you're ready 
to print your cards, see the "Tackle 
Perplexing Printing Problems" sidebar 
for information about selecting paper 
and configuring your printer. 

Signed, Sealed & Delivered 

As you can see, designing a greeting 
card is fairly easy. PrintMaster Greeting 
Cards Deluxe's templates provided a 
quick and simple way to make a greeting 
card, but we found it just as convenient 
and easy to create a greeting card from 
scratch. With the appropriate software, 
you can send your friends personalized 
greeting cards rather than spending time 
sifting through racks of cards, searching 
for "just the right card." II 

by Kylee Dickey 

Tackle Perplexing Printing Problems 

Once you design a 
greeting card, you're 
ready to print it. It's impor- 
tant to choose the right 
equipment and supplies 
for this task. 

Most inkjet printers are 
ideally suited for printing 
cards. Those with adjustable 
feeder guides will help en- 
sure that even nonstandard 
paper sizes feed through 
your printer properly. You 
also should look for printers 
that can handle card-stock 
paper. Check printers' docu- 
mentation and choose a 
printer that supports 
heavier, thicker paper. 

If you print quarter-fold 
cards, you'll only need to 
print on one side of the 
paper. However, if you print 

half-fold cards, you'll need 
special paper for double- 
sided printing. Double-sided 
paper is thick enough that 
ink will not bleed through. 
Plus, it's coated on both 
sides, whereas standard 
matte and photo paper is 
coated on only one side. 
Epson's Double-sided 
Matte Paper ($14.99 for 50 
sheets; and 
Glossy Photo Greeting Cards 
($9 for 1 5 sheets) worked with 
our Epson Stylus Photo R300. 
Most printer manufacturers 
offer similar specialty papers. 
You also can use third-party 
paper, as long as it isn't too 
thick and/or heavy for your 
printer. Check your printer's 
documentation. Examples of 
third-party paper include 

Avery's Quarter-Fold or Half- 
Fold Greeting Cards ($10.99 
for 20 sheets; 
and Red River Premium Matte 
2-Sided 9- x 6.25-Inch Paper 
($15 for 50 prescored sheets; 

In the past most programs 
required the user to figure 
out how to orient the paper 
to avoid printing half of the 
card upside down. However, 
many programs today in- 
clude setup wizards that not 
only let you designate the 
type and size of paper, but 
they also configure them- 
selves to print properly with 
your printer. Broderbund's 
PrintMaster Greeting Cards 
Deluxe, for example, includes 
a print wizard that prints 
sample pages. From the 

information you provide 
about the appearance of 
these pages, the wizard con- 
figures the software to print 
properly with your printer. 
PrintMaster Greeting Cards 
Deluxe's Printer Setup dialog 
box even included an In- 
clude Printing Instructions 
checkbox. This option prints 
an extra sheet of printing in- 
structions with your card so 
that you know which direc- 
tion to feed the paper for 
printing on the second side. 

Your greeting card soft- 
ware should provide guid- 
ance in configuring your 
printer. Once you design a 
card and choose the right 
paper, you're ready to print 
and send cards to your 
friends and family. I 

78 July 2005 / 

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Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Secrets Of An Effective Slide 


2002 for 



Want to steal 

some secrets 

from this slide? 

See the story for 

a breakdown of 

how to create 

each element 

shown here. 

Just as you can learn when to use a 4 -iron by 
watching pro golfers on television, you can pick 
up PowerPoint tricks by observing good presen- 
ters and figuring out why they do what they do. 
This month, we've mocked up a slide that fea- 
tures some of the easiest techniques for quickly 
boosting the look of a presentation. The fol- 
lowing breakdown shows how you can easily add 
the same features to your next slideshow. 

Step off the grid. Most presenters never branch 
out and move text or picture boxes off the spots 
they occupy in PowerPoint's slide templates. 
If you mix up the positions of a few of these 
items, your slides will instantly take on a fresh, 
more personal look. In our sample slide, we ex- 
panded the picture box until it stretched off the 
edges of the slide, cre- 
ating a bleed photo that 
packs a lot more im- 
pact. We placed one of 
our label boxes on an 
open spot in the photo 
to further break down 
the boxy barriers. 

Get to the point. 
When your photos 
make a point rather 
than simply decorate 
slides, draw attention 
to specific areas of the 
photo through pointer lines (often called call- 
outs) created with the AutoShapes feature. Click 
the Drawing toolbar's AutoShapes button and 
choose Basic Shapes. Click the circle and drag a 
small circle onto the part of the photo you want 
to point to. For perfect circles, hold down the 
SHIFT key as you drag the shape of your circle 
onto the slide. 

To add a pointer line, click the Drawing tool- 
bar's line button and hold down the SHIFT key 
as you drag to create a perfectly straight line. Add 
text at the end of the pointer line by choosing the 
Insert menu and Text Box. Drag the mouse to 
create a box next to your line, click inside it, and 
start typing. 

Once you draw one circle, pointer line, and 
text box, duplicate the combination as many 
times as needed around your slide. First, group 
the circle, line, and text box together so you can 
duplicate them as a single object and move them 



Know the forecast ^Sj 

iul for yow travel days. VjaM 

jU v j^B 

Beware of any 
known Bigfoot 

activity in the area. 

Study the terrain on 
topo maps to read 
the rivers fall. 

tt&>: ''^jBr ' --^S&* 

■ J* 

Watch the width: 

^^^■■te* --■ - 

faster current. 

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as a unit. Hold down the SHIFT key as you click 
each item, click the Draw button on the Drawing 
toolbar, and choose Group. Next, copy the 
pointer line combo by pressing CTRL-D once for 
every copy you need. You can then drag the 
copies anywhere on the slide. To lengthen a line, 
click the object, choose Draw and Ungroup, and 
drag the line. (If you drag the line without un- 
grouping the items, you'll deform the circle as 
you pull the line along.) 

Show your brand. Gone are the days when au- 
diences think you're a slick professional just be- 
cause you use PowerPoint. With so many 
PowerPoint users out there, the trick now is to 
prove you can do more than use PowerPoint's 
canned presentation templates. One fast way to 
lose the off-the-shelf look is by adding a person- 
alized logo to each slide using the Slide Master. 

Open View, Master, and Slide Master. Now 
you're looking at the Slide Master; anything you 
add here will appear on every slide in the presen- 
tation. For example, if you have the logo for your 
company or conference stored as an image file, 
choose Insert, Picture, and From File and navi- 
gate to your logo file. Place it in the bottom 
corner of the slide and size it appropriately. 

If you don't have a logo file ready, you can fake 
it pretty convincingly using PowerPoint's 
WordArt feature. Click the big A button on the 
Drawing toolbar, choose the WordArt look you 
want, and click OK. Type the name of your com- 
pany or conference here and choose a font and 
color. When you're done, you can move the 
WordArt anywhere on the slide. Just like that, 
you have a slide personalized with a logo that 
should convince most audiences that you never 
buy your slides off the rack. 

Reveal it in pieces. Build suspense and focus 
your audience's attention by carefully controlling 
what information appears on-screen when. 
Instead of splashing all of our pointer lines and 
text boxes up at once, we used the controls under 
Slide Show and Custom Animation to bring each 
one in with a mouse click. To make a circle, 
pointer line, and text box appear all at once, hold 
down the SHIFT key as you click the items, click 
Add Effect, and choose the animation you want 
to use. 

by Trevor Meers 

80 July 2005 / 

Quick Studies 


Internet Explorer 
6 & Maxthon 1.2 


Spruce Up IE With Maxthon 

r* Maxthon Tabbed Browser 

■ CilcnUl Uttty Sat 

it li«;. UH ifioii die wjjvng ,i 

Maxthon dresses 

up the outdated 

Internet Explorer 

interface with 

features now 

common in 

other browsers, 

such as the 

ability to open 

Web pages via 

groups of tabs. 

Spooked by the rise of alternative browser Fire- 
fox, Microsoft announced that a beta version 
of Internet Explorer 7 will be out "this summer." IE 
users who are tired of waiting for new features 
might want to try Maxthon (, 
an IE shell that uses the same browser engine but 
offers a more flexible, feature-filled interface. 

Not Quite IE 

Once known as MyIE2, Maxthon adds some 
long-overdue modern functionality to IE, such as 
tabbed browsing and support for third-party plug- 
ins. Maxthon is even free for personal use, and 
Maxthon's developers encourage users who like the 
browser to make a donation. 

Maxthon is designed to look 
much like IE. Open it up for 
the first time, and you may 
think that you're still browsing 
with IE. Take a longer look 
at the toolbar, however, and 
you'll start to notice differences 
in the form of additional but- 
tons and toolbars. 

The most important of these 
changes is the tab in the upper- 
left corner that displays the 
name of the Web site currently 
loaded in the main window. 
To open Web pages via mul- 
tiple tabs, click the blank page button on the left 
end of the main toolbar. A tab labeled Blank will 
appear next to your first page tab. Pick a site from 
your list of favorites or type a Web address into the 
Address field, and the new page appears. 

When more than one tab is active, you can click 
them alternately to switch back and forth between 
the Web pages you have open. Open more tabs to 
see how easy it is to keep various pages ready to 
view. We found it much easier to handle multiple 
tabs in one Maxthon browser window than a flurry 
of IE windows clogging up our Desktop. 

A collection of tabbed pages also can be saved 
together as a Group, which lets you quickly load a 
frequently visited set of sites. Maxthon even adds a 
Groups menu to the toolbar to make it extra easy 
to access these collections. To try it, open some 
pages you often read. For example, you might load 
all the news sites you check in the morning via 

multiple tabs. When you have the tabs the way you 
want them, click Groups and choose Save Win- 
dows As A Group. Enter a name for the Group and 
click Save. Now go to the Groups menu again, and 
you'll see the new Group name toward the bottom. 

Customize It 

Another one of Maxthon's improvements over 
IE is its ability to easily incorporate third-party 
plug-ins. Plug-ins add functionality to a browser 
and can be installed and enabled on a user-by-user 
basis. For instance, plug-ins might provide search 
tools, interface improvements, and more. 

There isn't an "official" Web site for Maxthon 
plug-ins. The largest selection seems to be at, which also happens to 
feature a lot of Polish-language content. Click the 
Plugin Downloads link on the left side of the page 
to browse through the available categories. Within 
each category you'll find a long list of plug- ins. 
User ratings provide some guide as to the useful- 
ness of each one, although the number of users 
who've cast votes is rather small. 

More In Store 

These are just a couple of the improvements 
Maxthon makes to IE; listing all of the changes 
Maxthon brings would take a lot more space than 
the page we have here. But not every Maxthon ad- 
dition is as useful as those we described in this ar- 
ticle. The best way to figure out whether you have a 
need for a particular addition is to take a few min- 
utes to explore the program's menus and options. 

Firefox users probably will react to Maxthon 
with a big ho-hum. Maxthon might sport some 
Firefoxy features, but at its core, the program is still 
IE. That's good news in some ways. For example, 
many Web pages won't display properly with any 
browser other than IE — or Maxthon because it's so 
similar to IE. On the other hand, Maxthon also will 
be vulnerable to any security and virus attacks 
aimed at IE. In that way, Maxthon is a victim of 
IE's success. But if you have to put up with the 
downside of IE's security woes — for whatever 
reason — you might as well enjoy the extra func- 
tionality Maxthon provides. II 

by Alan Phelps 

Smart Computing / July 2005 81 

Microsoft Excel 2002 

Quick Studies 



2002 for 



Sorting Data 

Franchisee SitatE 

Look at your data 

from every angle 

with handy sort 

tools that let you 

quickly rearrange 
information by a 

variety of criteria. 

Lurking somewhere in a spreadsheet full of 
database- style entries are trends that point to 
better business decisions. Spotting those trends is 
often just a matter of looking at data through 
various lenses. To put large amounts of informa- 
tion into an order that makes things clear, use the 
Data menu's Sort tool. As soon as you start 
sorting lists, you'll think of many powerful ways 
to use the tools. In seconds, you can rank sales- 
people by calls made and then switch gears and 
rank them by actual sales made. You can see 
which department leads the company in widgets 
produced and then check who's leading in the 
production of gizmos. 

Start with the Standard toolbar's pair of but- 
tons for ultra- quick sorts. Just click a cell in the 
column by which you want to sort a block of data 
and then click either the Sort Ascending or Sort 
Descending button on the Standard toolbar. In 
our example photo, clicking one cell in the Stores 
column and then one of the but- 
tons lets us rearrange the entire 
list in the desired order. Even if 
you rearrange the list based on 
the Stores column, all of the 
other information, such as the 
franchisee and state names, re- 
mains beside the correct cells in 
the Stores column. 
Excel sorts text, as well as numbers, so you can 
alphabetize information by applying these but- 
tons to columns with text information in them. 

Your first experiments with sorting can be a 
little nerve-wracking. New users tend to worry 
that Excel will so badly garble data that coordi- 
nating elements will never match up again. If you 
just can't bring yourself to trust Excel, keep a 
couple of fingers on CTRL-Z, the key combina- 
tion that will undo any sort. 

Advanced Sorts 

For more powerful, multipart sort operations, 
choose Data and Sort. The dialog box's controls 
let you carry out multistage sorts that organize by 
several criteria in succession. Let's say we need to 
sort our list of franchisees first by the number of 
stores and then, in situations where several lines 
have the same number of stores, by the number 
of certified stores. 

When you open the Data and Sort dialog box, 
you'll see a drop-down menu labeled Sort By, along 
with a couple of boxes labeled Then By. The names 
of your columns will appear in these drop -down 
menus, so you can choose to sort by Stores instead 
of Column E. In our example choose Stores in the 
Sort By box and click the Descending button. Then 
choose Certified Stores in the first Then By box and 
choose Descending. Click OK to perform the sort. 

What about putting listings in order by day of 
the week or month of the year? Alphabetization 
isn't much help here, but Excel is programmed 
with a special Sort option. Click a cell in the list 
you want to sort and then click Data and Sort. 
Select the correct column in the Sort By drop- 
down menu and then click Options. In the First 
Key Sort Order drop-down menu, choose the 
entry that matches the format of your informa- 
tion. When you click OK, Excel rearranges the list 
in chronological order by your criterion. 

For all of your sorts using the Sort dialog box, be 
sure to leave the Header Row radio button selected. 
If you select the other button, sorting will make a 
mess because Excel will throw column headings 
into the mix and sort them with all the other data. 

Custom Sorting Rules 

Many times you'll need to sort data by some 
value Excel can't categorize as numerical or alpha- 
betical. Maybe you label each franchisee for your 
company as Elite, Premier, or Standard and would 
like to sort them by these rankings. Set up a 
custom sort list. Enter the three ratings into a se- 
ries of three cells and highlight them. Choose 
Tools, Options, and Custom Lists and then click 
Import and OK. Note that Excel views the list you 
type as ascending in order, so if you expect Elite 
selections to appear at the top of data selections 
sorted in Descending order, put Elite third when 
setting up your sort list. 

Go back to your worksheet and click a cell in the 
list you want to sort with your new tool. On the 
Sort By drop-down menu, choose the column you 
want to sort by; in this case that will be a column 
we called Ranking. Click Options, and on the First 
Key Sort Order list, choose your new sort list, 
which will be listed as Elite, Premier, Standard. II 

by Trevor Meers 

82 July 2005 / 

Broderbund Print Shop 15 Deluxe 

Quick Studies 


Add Spice With Sound & Video 


15 for 



kin:|t3M US 

Print Shop 15 Deluxe does more than create 
static greeting cards you can print and mail. 
You can also make the cards sing and dance and 
use them as a multimedia asset on your Web site. 

Print Shop lets you add background sounds to 
pages in a project. You can also link sounds to text 
or graphics, so the sound plays when the viewer 
clicks the object. Likewise, you can insert a video 
clip that the viewer can click to play. 


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Background & Object Sounds 

You can access a 

wide variety of 

Print Shop's 

sound files or 

ones of your own 

from the Select 

Sound dialog box. 

The Select Video 

dialog box gives 

you the capability 

of designating 

an AVI or 

MPEG video for 

your project. 

Open the project you want to add 
multimedia to — we'll add a back- 
ground sound for a page. A half-fold 
greeting card, for example, has a 
front, inside, and back, so that gives 
us three pages to which we can attach 
a background sound. 

Open the page to which you want to 
add a background sound. Click View, 
Show/Hide Toolbars, and Status Bar if 
the Status Bar isn't visible. Click the button on the 
Status Bar that looks like a small speaker. The Add 
Background Sound option appears. Click it, and 
the Select Sound dialog box appears, opening the 
directory containing Print Shop's bundled sounds 
on a variety of subjects. You can choose sound files 
from other locations on your computer as long as 
they are in the supported WAV or MIDI (Musical 
Instrument Digital Interface) formats. 

Follow the same 
process when you want 
to make changes to 
background sound. 
Choose Replace Back- 
ground Sound to bring 
up the Select Sound 
dialog box. Choose 
Remove Background 
Sound, and Print Shop 
will unassign the sound. 

Adding sound to an object follows a similar 
process. Click the object to select it, and a new 
icon appears on the Status Bar next to the speaker 
icon. Click this button and Attach Sound, and the 
Select Sound dialog box appears. Choose a sound 
in the same way as you did earlier. Make future 
changes by selecting the object and clicking 
Replace Sound or Delete Sound. 

You can use the menu bar to perform many of 
the same tasks that we performed above using the 
Status Bar icons. Click Insert, Multimedia and then 
Background Sound, Object Sound, or Video. 

Add A Video Clip 

Print Shop also gives you the option of adding 
video to your project. Click Insert, Multimedia, 
and Video. The Select Video dialog box appears. 
The Print Shop offers only a couple of video files as 
examples, in contrast to the many sound files it 
provides. You can use your own video clips as long 
as they are in AVI (Audio -Video Interleaved) or 
MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) formats. 

Click the file name of the video you are going 
to use. The first frame of the video appears in the 
preview frame on the right side of the dialog box. 

Click Open when you have selected the video 
you want to use. The first frame of the video now 
appears in your project. 

Preview your pages before you publish them so 
you can see that the multimedia effects you have 
added are functional. The Print Shop converts your 
Web project to HTML (Hypertext Markup Lan- 
guage), opens your default Web browser, and 
shows you the project. Click Web and Preview 
Web site. The Web Page Design Checker may ap- 
pear. If so, click Continue. The background sound 
will automatically play, and the object sound will 
play when you click the object. You can have both 
sound types on the same page. The video clip will 
run when you click it. 

Keep Size In Mind 

Just because you can add these bells and whistles 
doesn't mean you always should, especially if you 
are going to publish to the Web. Click Web and 
Web Design Checker. A dialog box appears that 
tells you the download time for each page. The 
total time for Page 1 of the project we created for 
this article was cited as 54 minutes, 23 seconds for a 
28.8Kbps (kilobits per second) modem, which is 
unacceptable. You will have to decide which effects 
you really need and which you can do without. 

Multimedia can make your Print Shop project 
come alive. Use the elements well to get noticed. II 

by Tom Hancock 

Smart Computing / July 2005 83 

Quick Studies 

Word Processing 

Microsoft Word 2002 

Scan & Process Paper Documents, Part I 

2002 for 



Paper documents don't have to take up valuable 
space in your file cabinet. With a scanner, 
Microsoft Office XP, and Word 2002, you can con- 
vert paper documents to word processing docu- 
ments, perform word searches, and store them as 
Word documents in folders on your PC. 

You can manipulate the files resulting from 
scanned pages like any other files; for example, 
you can send them to others as email attach- 
ments. We show you how to perform this wiz- 
ardry in this and the next two months' articles. 

• - - 


Black and white 






i c.'o.ot:- ai: 
I - Prompt for additional pages 

Help | 

Document Imaging 

The Microsoft 

Office Document 

Scanning dialog 

box appears 

when you click 

File and Scan 

New Document. 

General | p age | Output | Processing | 
lame: PresetOI 

^can Type: Black and white from color page _^J 


presets is 

important when 

you need to 

tweak settings 

for optimal 

OCR results. 

Microsoft Office Document Imaging is 
available to owners of Microsoft Office XP 
Standard or Professional. You'll find the de- 
fault location for this application by clicking 
Start, Programs, Microsoft Office Tools, and 
Microsoft Office Document Imaging. 

Microsoft Office Document Imaging uses 
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) files, a 
format that can contain text recognized by 
OCR (optical character recognition) software, 
which is one of Document Imaging's functions. 
With OCR you can extract text from a scanned 
image and use it in Word or other Micro- 
soft Office programs. 

You will be prompted to insert the Microsoft 
Office XP CD if you haven't previously installed 
Microsoft Office Document Imaging. Click OK 
after you have inserted the CD-ROM. Installation 
begins, and the app opens automatically 
when it is complete. 

Document Imaging supports two 
types of scanner drivers: TWAIN and 
WIA (Windows Image Acquisition). 
You will be prompted to perform a 
check of your scanner the first time 
you use Document Imaging. 

Click File, Scan New Document, 
Scanner, and Test Scanner if the check 
doesn't start. This check lets the soft- 
ware determine the capabilities of your scanner. 
Use Document Imaging's scanner presets if your 
scanner passes the test. Your scanner's driver dialog 
box will appear each time you scan if your scanner 
fails the test. The options in this latter instance will 
vary depending on your scanner. Click OK when 
the test is complete. 

The presets will appear when you click File and 
Scan New Document. This brings up the Micro- 
soft Office Document Scanning dialog box. 
Presets are collections of settings that optimize 
the scan depending on particular types of content 
contained on the document you intend to scan. 

There are four presets that are automatically 
available if your scanner passed the aforemen- 
tioned test. OCR is compatible with any of these 
presets. Use Black And White for scanning black 
text on white paper. Select Black And White From 
Color Page for changing color text to black or 
when scanning a poor-quality document for get- 
ting the best OCR result. Use Color when you want 
the scan to retain the color on the document and 
Grayscale when you want text and graphics to be 
varying tones of black and white. 

Create, edit, and delete presets by clicking Preset 
Options in the Microsoft Office Document Scan- 
ning dialog box. You don't need to change these 
unless you find that the default presets aren't per- 
forming well, for example, when the OCR is strug- 
gling to make sense of a document. 

Click Preset Options and Create A New Preset. 
Enter a name for the preset. Click OK. The Preset 
Options dialog box appears with four tabs. 

Under the General tab, specify the Scan Type. 
Click Advanced to bring up the Advanced Scan 
Settings dialog box. Click the Resolution drop- 
down menu to change the resolution of the scan. 
The higher the resolution, the better the image, al- 
though the file size of the scan will be larger. 

Click the Type drop-down menu to specify the 
amount of information to record for each pixel. 
The options are Monochrome for black-and-white 
documents, 8 Bit Gray for grayscale, or 24 Bit 
Color for color. These last two record more de- 
tailed information than Monochrome, but they 
create larger files and may take longer to scan. 
Select the box for Auto Contrast, Save As Mono- 
chrome to create a high-contrast image that will re- 
sult in better OCR results. This can be useful when 
scanning documents with background colors or 
colored text. Click OK when you are finished with 
the Advanced settings. 

We will continue our look at factors that affect 
OCR, as well as how you can use Microsoft Word 
with it, in our next two articles. II 

by Tom Hancock 

84 July 2005 / 

Intuit Quicken 2005 Premier 

Quick Studies 

Personal Finance 

Analyze Your Current Investments 

2005 for 



The Model 


window in 

Quicken's Asset 

Allocation Guide 

gives you tips on 

setting your asset 

allocation to 

meet your 

desired risk level. 

For many people, investment analysis is one of 
those necessary evils. It can be tedious. It can 
be difficult to comprehend. After the frustrations, 
many finally reach this conclusion: It can be 
something to put off until next month. 

Investment analysis doesn't have to be a major 
chore, though. With your portfolio already entered 
into Quicken 2005 Premier, you can use the soft- 
ware's built-in tools to easily perform a thorough 
analysis of your current investment situation. 

(NOTE: If you re interested in using Quicken to 
help you find new investments that fit your needs, see 
the Quicken Quick Study in the May 2005 issue of 
Smart Computing, in which we discussed using 
Quickens online tools for investing research.) 

Start by clicking the Investing Center button 
along the left side of the Quicken home page. The 
Investing Center window will show your current 
investment situation (as long 
as you've entered your in- 
vestment data into the soft- 
ware). Click the One Step 
Update button on the right 
side of the window to make 
sure you've downloaded the 
latest data for your assets. 

Asset Allocation 

Studying your asset allocation is one of the best 
ways to analyze your investment situation. Most 
investment professionals will tell you that 
spreading your assets among different types of in- 
vestments will help lessen the pain of severe market 
fluctuations. Your asset allocation determines your 
potential level of investment risk vs. return. 

To learn more about asset allocation, click the 
Investing menu and Asset Allocation Guide. 
Then work through each window in the guide, 
which explains the importance of proper asset al- 
location. You'll also receive tips on what percent- 
ages to use with your allocation. Ultimately, 
though, the decision rests with you. You may 
want to gain additional advice from an invest- 
ment professional or financial books, magazines, 
and Web sites before making the final decision 
on your asset allocation. 

Once you've learned about asset allocation, 
you'll eventually reach the Set Your Target 
Allocation window. Click the Set text link. 

In the Set Target Asset Allocation dialog box, 
enter the percentages for each asset class that you 
want for your asset allocation and click OK. 

To begin monitoring your asset allocation, 
click Next to move to the monitoring window. 
Click the Download Asset Classes link to see the 
latest information about the asset allocation for 
your current investments. 

If your actual investments don't match your 
target asset allocation, rebalance your portfolio by 
changing your investments. The What Is Rebalan- 
cing window can help you learn about rebalancing. 

For a more general analysis of your portfolio's 
holdings, return to the Investing Center main page 
and click the Analysis tab. 

Study Investment Performance 

For some investors, raw investment data is the 
best way to perform an analysis of investments. 
From the main Investing Center window, click the 
Performance tab at the top of the window. Quicken 
will display the performance of your investments 
and accounts. Each section in the Performance area 
of the Investing Center gives you different informa- 
tion. (For each section, you can change the data 
that's displayed by clicking the Options menu in 
the section and selecting the change to make.) 

Growth Of $10,000. In the upper area of the 
window, you can use the graph to compare your 
portfolio's growth to the performance of investing 
market benchmarks. Just select the checkboxes for 
the benchmarks you want to use for comparison. 

Average Annual Return. You'll find the per- 
centage of annual return for each of your invest- 
ment accounts along with your overall portfolio. 
You then can compare the results to the listed 
benchmarks. To see the annual return for indi- 
vidual securities in your portfolio, click the Show 
Security Performance Comparison button. 

Portfolio vs. Cost Basis. This compares the 
costs associated with compiling your portfolio vs. 
the value of the portfolio. 

Investing Activity. Any transaction that has af- 
fected the value of your portfolio is listed here, in- 
cluding new deposits, withdrawals, dividends, and 
changes in market value. Click Capital Gains 
Report for information on your capital gains. II 

by Kyle Schurman 

Smart Computing / July 2005 85 

Quick Tips 

Secrets For Succeeding In Common Tasks 

by Stephen J. Bigelow 




i: How do I display more than the last 
four documents in Word? 

Answer: By default, Word lists the last four docu- 
ments that you opened in the File menu, which is 
convenient for most users. However, if you work 
with a lot of documents (or frequently switch 
among documents), it may be helpful to see more 

n: I don't like the idea of my co-workers, 
spouse, or kids following my online surfing. Is 
there an easy way to maintain anonymity? 

Answer: Every time that you communicate across 
the Internet, your computer's IP (Internet Pro- 
tocol) address is also transmitted, allowing any 
communications to ultimately be traced back to 
your PC or Internet router. This precludes true 
anonymity on the Internet. However, you're prob- 
ably more concerned with the history file and 
temporary files that typically accumulate during 
your online activity. The easiest way to cover your 
tracks from prying eyes is to simply delete those 

than the last four documents you've worked on. 
You can easily extend the list of recently used files. 
With Word 2002 running, click Tools and Options 
and select the General tab. Check the Recently 
Used File List box and specify a new number of 
files that you want to appear. Now click OK. As 
you open and close more documents, the list 
should lengthen to reflect your new selection. 

accumulated files before leaving your PC each 
day. With Internet Explorer, for example, click 
Tools and Internet Options, select the General 
tab, and then click the Delete Files and Clear 
History buttons. 

These tactics will not protect you from irrespon- 
sible or illegal online activity. Many employers al- 
ready track their employees' use of the Internet 
through a corporate firewall. Also, deleting tem- 
porary files from your PC does not actually 
immediately erase those files, so traces of ques- 
tionable content can still remain on your PC long 
after deletion. 

"i: How do I use Outlook to access my 
Hotmail account? 

Answer: More recent versions of Outlook (such as 
Outlook 2002) allow you to set up accounts for 
your Web-based email. This gives you the conve- 
nience of accessing your email anywhere you have 
Internet access, while still using a standard tool 
such as Outlook to organize and manage your 

mail (provided you have your computer with you 
or follow these instructions on a friend's com- 
puter). With Outlook 2002 running, click Tools 
and E-mail Accounts. Select Add A New E-mail 
Account and click Next. Choose HTTP and click 
Next. Enter your Web-based account information 
(including logon credentials) and click Next. 
Now click Finish to set up the new account, 
which appears in the Folder List. 


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Word lets you easily 

adjust the number 

of recent files listed 

in the File menu. 

Word can back up your 
documents every few 
minutes, allowing 
recovery of the file(s) 
after a system crash. 

86 July 2005 / 

Quick Tips 



i: I get a lot of junk email from people 
and businesses that I've never heard of. Many of 
these messages ask for replies. Should I reply? 

Answer: Unfortunately, many spammers request 
a reply, which they then use as a confirmation of 
your email address, and that confirmation often 
leads to even more spam. As a general rule, do 
not reply to emails from senders you do not 
know. In fact, it's often best to simply add that 
spammer's address to your email client's junk list 

Is there any way to see what appli- 
cations are taking up the most 
Internet bandwidth? 

Answer: Sometimes it's handy to 
see which applications are making 
most use of your Internet connec- 
tion — especially if there's a band- 
width hog that is slowing down 

Firewalls such as McAfee Personal 

Firewall provide a monitoring 

feature that offers statistical 

and graphical reports of 

communication activity between 

your PC and the Internet. 

: :pj»,.: ihe ifpoamilt ;*:»<■»:(? •:' t : .: :■ ■ 

to ignore future mailings. In Outlook 2000, for 
example, simply right-click the spammer's ad- 
dress from your Inbox, select Junk E-mail from 
the drop-down menu, and select Add To Junk 
Senders List. This will mark the sender accord- 
ingly, ignoring subsequent messages and helping 
to keep you free of spam. 

If you receive excessive amounts of spam, contact 
your ISP (Internet service provider) for assistance. 
It may be able to help block aggressive spammers. 

your effective connection speeds. You need a 
traffic monitor utility that can track the number 
of packets associated with each program that is 
communicating with the Internet and then ex- 
press each as a percentage of the total traffic. 
Firewall utilities often provide some type of traffic 
monitoring feature, though the Traffic Monitor 
in McAfee Personal Firewall provides one of the 
clearest and most detailed reports. Once MPF is 
installed, configured, and running on your PC, 
launch its management console, select the 
Utilities tab, and click the Traffic Monitor link. A 
new dialog box will open and display a graphical 
analysis along with statistical inbound/outbound 
traffic data. A pie chart illustrates the top traffic 
sources for easy reference. 



n: I do some online gaming, but every now 
and then, my firewall blocks the client and asks for 
permission to access the Internet, even though I've 
already given permission. How do I stop this? 

Answer: Your firewall is only doing its job, moni- 
toring and regulating the communication be- 
tween your PC and the Internet. The culprit is 
almost certainly your game software. Online 
game publishers frequently update their content 
with bug fixes, play balance changes, and new 

What is auto-recovery in Word, and how 
should I use it? 

Answer: Microsoft Word can be configured to au- 
tomatically save an emergency copy of your cur- 
rent documents every few minutes. If your PC 
crashes (or you lose power), Word can automati- 
cally recover the last saved file. This can be a real 
lifesaver if you're not too diligent about regularly 

content, which often causes changes to the main 
executable game client program. But anytime that 
client changes, the firewall sees it as a new or dif- 
ferent program and insists that you allow server 
access to the program before you're able to re- 
sume play. In actual practice there is little you can 
do to stop this behavior other than reducing the 
firewall's security level (or disabling the firewall 
entirely), though neither are desirable options. 
It's a small inconvenience when compared to the 
benefits your firewall offers. 

saving work. Enable AutoRecover in Word 2002 
by clicking Tools and Options, selecting the Save 
tab, checking the Save AutoRecover Info Every 
box, and entering the number of minutes be- 
tween saves. The default is every 10 minutes, but 
you can opt for any time between one and 120 
minutes. If you're in the habit of making fast, 
sweeping changes to your documents, select a 
shorter time. 

Smart Computing / July 2005 87 

My Personal Library 

Need a place to store all of your favorite articles? 

Now you can, with's My Personal Library. 

My Personal Library is a great way to organize and keep track of 
tutorials, reviews, troubleshooting articles, and much more ap- 
pearing monthly in our various computer publications! You can 
access My Personal Library through 
and our sister publications' listings (PC Today, 
Computer Power User, and PC Novice Reference Series). 

Here's How: 

Log on to 

Click Search All Articles, located in the blue toolbar on the left side 
of the home page. 

Search different articles via our publications. When you find an ar- 
ticle you want to save, click the Add To My Personal Library link lo- 
cated in the upper right-hand corner of the article. 

Create a new folder or store the article in an already existing folder. 

To access your saved files in My Personal Library: 

Click the Go To My Personal Library link. Or, click the View My 
Personal Library link in the upper right on any article page. 

Click the article you want to read. 

Create as many folders and store as many articles as you like- 
there are no limits! 

Feature) A rtfctes 

Afay 2005 - VoL16 issue 5 

Pagefs) 66-67 in piirA issue 

Add To My Personal Library 
Find & Exterminate spyware 

Strategies To Get These Pests Out Of Your System 

Jump to fiisto 

>.:e t.t: [ TPv ■■'■■f= ] 

An interesting Ihing happens when you drive your car on a rural stretch of 
highway on a warm arid muggy night: It gels splattered with bugs. (Well, we 
find H interesting, anyway.) Moths, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, and anything 
else that "lie-] ntt y:y p at t v.ill arij i_p as yc-llo.v an J trovn smears en lie 
grille and windshield. And your carwil cany ihcse slubborn smears until 
you clean them off with soapy water, 

In many ways, Web surfing offers a similar experience. As you click from 
one site to trie next, your PC pickt u:) ;. ~n,-.!to-ir"j of unwanted npplc?t= :ivd 
■jed .hi:. 1-ici! bee 3 ire err bedded in ycui c;._1?n Dul unlike ly-nt; in-5e.;H 
that die upon impact, these pesky programs actually become co-inhabitants 
of your PC. many with the purpose of monitoring online activity, uj eliminate She invaders, referred to 
collectively si s|>v>v.iie , invest in a utility that scrubs away unwanted digital grime. 

■ A Spyware Primer 

c p;....yarp rf'pi; In an; pnnrp-n "hat tih' tl ; rnl!jr:t nfirna:in-i fnr:ht p irpncp nfVqrkhrj 

behavior. In some cases, it has a perfectly legitimate reason for being installed. For instance, 
parents and employee -Vc:|ucn1ly ucs cpvware, in the foim of keyboard loggers and Internet 

July Web-Only Articles 

Here's a list of this month's additional 
articles available to you online as a paid 
subscriber to Smart Computing. To view 
these articles, click the link in the Web- 
Only Articles area in the left column of 
the home page. (Only subscribers can 
read the complete article.) 

i : ' I '■'■ lnl.1 '-i: I Ki 


For all the latest product reviews, visit the Hardware Reviews & 
Comparison Charts area at ( 

PC Operating Instructions 

Linux: KGet Provides Control Over Downloads 

If you're stuck on dial-up or trying to download a large file from a 
busy server, download managers are invaluable. KGet not only lets 
you resume downloads if your connection is prematurely severed, 
but it also gives you plenty of control, which is particularly helpful if 
you haven't yet moved to broadband Utopia. This month, we'll show 
you how to configure and use KGet with Konqueror and other Linux 


Quick Studies 

word: IHE3H3EE ok 


Save Email Searches 
In Thunderbird 

Dictionary: | US English _^J Cancel | 

Add: ^ A s all lowercase 

C Exactly as typed Remove | 


Have Fun With Fonts 


Microsoft Access 2002 

The Tab Order & How To Change It 

"~ Slonfimnrtt H-fxfcjcrion 1 

Oa Bit '&* loots lib 


HrA»"irWtni FaUrn 


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m sf H r u m I m 




ft 3 hE k 

J^ v ,^: - , 1 * r« *oil J" 1 " IraftsKfi l)mWi . 









E B 

" IS a B b 


Roxio PhotoSuite 

Adobe PageMaker 7 

Tweak Hyphenation For Better Appearance 


Chat With Trillian 

Adobe Photoshop 6.0 

Undo, Revert & Learn 

Corel WordPerfect 11 

Touch Up Toolbars 

Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8 

More Selection Tool Features 

Roxio PhotoSuite 7 Platinum 

Create Slideshows 

Microsoft Works 2005 

Work With Projects 


Mastering Viruses 

Smart Computing / July 2005 89 

Need Tech Support? 

Check out the Smart Computing Tech Support Center-the latest 
addition to the site! Follow these quick 
and easy steps to access this great information resource. 

/ Get There 

Go to the homepage ( and click the link provided in the Tech 
Support Center area at the top of the home page. 

2 Try It Out 

Browse or search through Error Messages or Common 
Problems & Frequently Asked Questions by clicking the 
appropriate links under each category. 

Take a look at all the helpful troubleshooting articles by 
clicking the link in the Basic Troubleshooting Articles area. 

Be sure to check out the latest security & privacy news with the 
Web log located in the Security & Privacy category. 

Read what you can do to stop problems before they stop you 
with the Preventive & Regular Maintenance articles. 

Do it yourself. Read our specially written Articles On How To 
Install . . . Just About Anything. Be sure to add these helpful 
how-tos to My Personal Library! 

Use our Manufacturer Tech Support Index in the Other 
Helpful Tech Support Tools section to find Web sites, phone 
numbers, and addresses to put you in touch with product 
manufacturers and vendors. 

Error Messages 

If you're getting a specific error message, this is the place to start. 

Biowse Eiioi Messages Alph.ibetic.illy (try this first) 
Seoicli By Eiioi Message Text 

Bask TiMiMeshootiiHj Articles: 

Error Terror - Your PC's Scary Messages Can Help You Resolve System Conflicts 
Big. Bad & Blue - Understanding the "Blue Screen of Death" 
U oping \-V:th I 'C Anjiitty - Tips & Techniques For Stress-Free Troubleshooting 
A Helpful Hand - Debuggers Let You Record 

Solutions Knowledgebase 

Solutions to the issues we hear about the most. 

Search The Complete List 

Biowse A List <>f Common Piohlems & Fieguentltf Aske<il Questions 

Ton 25 p332l 


Basic Troubleshooting Articles 

WeVe assembled a comprehensive list of articles that start at square one 
and work you quickly through all fundamental checks and tests. 

View ALL Basic Trottbteshootiiw Aitides 

Security & Privacy 

It's called "malware"- destructive viruses and worms, intrusive spyware & 
adware, and nuisances like spam email and unwanted pop-ups (read "A 
Malware Primer "). Check our Weblog for the latest news and read our Basic 
Troubleshooting articles to learn how to diagnose & combat them. 

How To Get Rid Of ... ft 1 4'.' J I 

We'll tell you what to do to eliminate malware programs from your computer. 


Security b^ zc-\ I av.- = Lhj cu.ti; s.t a: a s. n ;hts issue 
In the wake of a series of high-profile security mishaps, Dated:4/1 4/2005 
key members of Congress have pledged to crack down 8:13: 16 AM 
on data brokers. ... 


Preventive & Regular Maintenance 

Preventive Maintenance- An ounce of prevention .. 

Articles On How To Install .. 

Just About 


View ALL How To install . 

. Articles fMU 


Other Helpful Tech Support Tools 
Computing DictioiMiy & Encyclopedia 
List Of File Extensions Witli Explanations 
Mamif.ictuiei Tech Support Index |23i3J 


July 2003 PC Novice Refeience Series - Sold out at newsstands, no back issues 
available. Over a year old. but still a great general information source and "Getting the most 
out of..." guide. 

90 July 2005 / 

3 Don't Lose That Information! 

If you find an Error Message, Common Problem, Frequently Asked Question, or helpful 
article you want to keep for later reference, add it to My Personal Library. 

• Make sure you are logged in on the home page. 

• Click the listing or article and click the Add To My Personal Library link in the upper right. 

• Create a new folder or add to an existing folder. You can also add a brief note! 

Web SiteTips 

Preview before the review. 

If you are anxious to see 
what the next issue of 
Smart Computing is going 
to cover, take a peek on- 
line at Click the 
Upcoming Issues link in 
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Smart Computing /July 2005 91 

Find More Online 

We can't, possibly fit every helpful tip, tweak, or troubleshoot- 
ing tidbit in print. That's why you'll find a wealth of resources 
at our Web site, com. Here are some tips 
for using our Web site to find more information about the arti- 
cles in this month's print issue. 

Transfer Photos To Your Computer 

To find additional help and answers to more digital 
camera problems, check out. the SmartComputing 
.com Q&A Board. This friendly user- to- user 
communication tool is great for getting questions 
answered quickly. Log in as a subscriber on the home page, and then click 
into the Q&A Board to post, your question. 

Organize Your Photos 

Let the editorial archive help you 
pick the right organizational tool for your photos. Read past 
reviews, including popular photo- organizing programs, by 
clicking the Read Software Reviews link in the left side menu of 
the home page. On the resulting page, 
click the Video & Photography link. Then click the 
Creating/Editing Digital Video link. 
A list of articles covering those 
topics will then be shown for your 
reading pleasure! 


Find Answers 

My Personal Library 

Search All Articles 

Read Hardware Reviews & 
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Read Software Reviews 

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Compiled by Jennifer Johnson 
Graphics & Design by Lori Garris 

Instant Messaging 

The Next Generation Of Communication 

The Internet has changed the way we commu- 
nicate, and IM (instant messaging) is just one 
example. Using an IM program such as MSN 
Messenger or AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), you 
can communicate over the Internet in real time 
with friends and family. To talk to friends and 
family using IM, all parties need the same instant 
messaging program and must be online and logged 
in to communicate. Some programs, such as 

Trillian (, work around 
this by letting you use a single program to commu- 
nicate among different platforms; see the "The 
Power Of Babble" sidebar for more information. 
IM is particularly handy when you want to have a 
brief text conversation with someone and do not 
want to use the phone or email. It's a great way to 
multitask by chatting with friends while checking 
email, talking to other friends, and more. 

How are y< 


What You Need 

To use IM, you'll need an IM 
program compatible with your 
system. Check the manufacturer's 
system requirements for more 
details. Many IM programs are 
free to use and work with various 
operating systems and computer 
hardware. You'll also need an 
Internet connection. 


As the popularity of IM has 
grown, so has its functionality. 
Early versions of IM software 
were limited to text messages. 
With today's IM software, you 
can hold a video conference, 
exchange files, use voice chat, 
and hold an IM chat conference 
with multiple IM users. 

Popular IM Programs 

Popular IM programs today include 
Microsoft MSN Messenger (messenger.msn 
.com), AIM (, Yahoo! Mes- 
senger (, and ICQ 

The Power Of Babble 

To talk to your friends, you normally must use the same IM program they are using. This can 
be a hassle if your friends use different IM programs. Trillian is an IM program that supports the 
most popular IM clients: MSN Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, and IRC. By using 
Trillian, you can chat with friends and family using one program with all of your IM 
accounts. This solves the hassle of working with multiple IM programs to talk to people. 
It supports the standard features of the IM clients such as audio chat, file transfers, 
group chats, chat rooms, buddy icons, typing notification, and much more. Trillian is 
safe to use and will not make your computer susceptible to pop-ups or spyware. In 
addition to standard functionality, Trillian also adds the ability to easily track 
message history and change your status in all of your IM programs at once. 

Group your friends into categories so you 
can easily find them in your contacts list. 

TriHlan View Window Help 



%. Connected 


»J rrv.iicclii'hci' (88) 

j|jf (2S4) 

94 July 2005 / 





The top of the message ! 
window shows who is 
involved in the conversation. 

View the history of your 

Preview the message you 
are preparing to send. 

You can see when the 
other person is typing a - 
message to you. 

TIP QM flrNnnr Tnn^ 

S •* % ^ 8» &■ 

Invite Send Files Webcam Audio Activities Games 

To: Kendall <;krriafi@yahoo<com> 

Jen says: 

Kendall says: 

Kendall says: 

How are you? 
Jen says: 

I'm good, how about yourself? 
Kendall says: 

I'm doing greati Isn't this instant messenger thing cool 
Kendall says: 

^j Winks t ^Backgrounds <■ 

j^' Kendall is writing a message, 

Use MSN Messenger to see and hear your contacts instead of typing 

Buddy icons are pictures 
used to distinguish your 
online identity. Some 
people use a picture of 
themselves; others choose 
a picture that represents 
something about them. 

The Send button will send 
your message to its recipient. 

You can change the format of 
the messages you send. 

The Interface 

Many IM programs let you set your online 
status to indicate when you are away, on 
the phone, busy, or otherwise unavailable. 

Access your Web-based email with one click. 

Your contact list contains the screen names 
of people you talk to online. Using that list, 
you can see which of your friends are 
online and which are not. Many IM 
programs also let you search for friends and 
family in their member directories.Think of 
these member directories as white pages 
for IM programs. Most of the time, you can 
control the information posted about you in 
member directories, so you don't have to be 
concerned about privacy issues. 

Sign Out 

| Jen 

1 [Online ~~v| 

E-mail: (9) ". MSN Today 

1 Online (19) 

oA Dorothy 

8 £ Eric ts 
S \ Groucho 

\ Fiona 
•i'Jb Jerry 

& John 

jl Julie (Away) 
O J KellyBelly 

A Lee 

£ Marky 

9 jl Matthew (Away) 
9 3 Michael 

■ /vN" other T 

- 3 Norrran(Av,ay) 

Jt Sam 

<& Tanya 

A Toad 
"i Vaughn (Away) 

I want to... 

+ Add a Contact 
■^ Send an Inst* 

I Send E-mail 
^4 Download MSN Messenger 
\f Go to My Add: - 
Provide Fi; 


Some IM 

programs have Web- 
based versions for 
use when you are 
away from your 
home or work 
computer and don't 
want to install the 
program. These 
Web-based versions 
look very similar to 
their installed, 

Yes, I love it! 

Me too! 

Smart Computing /July 2005 95 

Tech Support 

The Dirty Dozen 

12 Common Error 
Messages You Don't 
Want To See 


rror messages are 
kind of like letters 
from the IRS. They 
tend to arrive unexpect- 
edly, often for no ap- 
parent reason, por- 
tending doom in con- 
fusing terms. It's easy 
to see why no one 
wants to receive them. 
Fortunately, there's at 
least one significant dif- 
ference: You don't have 
to be a CPA or tax attorney 
to deal effectively with an error message. We 
identified 12 of the most dreaded and dumb- 
founding error messages you're likely to encounter 
and outlined the basic troubleshooting steps you 
should take to get rid of them. 

1. "Unspecified error" 

The best error messages provide plain-English 
explanations of the technical issues involved and 
helpful descriptions of how you can resolve them. 
This one does neither, forcing you to make a diag- 
nosis and prescribe a remedy based on nothing 
more than a cryptic evaluation of the situation. 
Making matters worse is the fact that the message 
is actually associated with a variety of known 
problems, including a failed DirectX update for 
Microsoft Producer and a known bug in Micro- 
soft's SQL Server 7.0, so it would be helpful if the 
error message would just say so. 

The best response is to close all open applications 
and reboot. If the error persists, download and in- 
stall the latest updates for the programs that may be 
involved. You also should run an anti-spyware 
utility, such as Ad-aware SE Personal (free; or Spybot Search & Destroy 

(free;, to 
eliminate unwanted contaminants that 
may spark the message on your PC. 

2. "The system is either busy or has be- 
come unstable. You can wait and see if 
it becomes available again, or you can 
restart your computer. Press any key 
to return to windows and wait. Press 
CTRL+ALT+DEL again to restart 
your computer. You will lose unsaved 
information in any programs that are 
running. Press any key to continue. " 

Sometimes Windows locks up unex- 
pectedly. Pressing CTRL- ALT- DELETE 
under such circumstances may result in 
displaying this error message on a blue 
screen (also known as the Blue Screen 
of Death), which provides little assis- 
tance and no explanation as to why the 
system became unstable. The fastest fix 
is to press CTRL-ALT- DELETE again 
to reboot the PC. Doing so eliminates 
the conditions that led the system to 
lock up in the first place. 

This message is generally linked to 
memory access errors. Take note of 
when and under what circumstances it 
appears. The resulting information can 
help you identify the cause of the error, 
so you can try to rectify the situation by 
reinstalling the offending application, 
downloading relevant updates, re- 
moving unnecessary programs from 
the Startup menu, disabling screen 
savers, and/or updating drivers. If all 
else fails, consider reinstalling Win- 
dows but back up important data first. 

3. "This program has performed an 
illegal operation and will be shut 
down. If the problem persists, contact 
the program vendor. " 

This vague and ominous message 
refers to invalid or unauthorized pro- 
gram activity, such as an attempt to 
execute an invalid line of code or ac- 
cess an off-limits portion of memory. 
But don't bother clicking the corre- 
sponding Details button because the 
resulting explanation is often an enig- 
matic stew of "faults" and "modules" 

96 July 2005 / 

Tech Support 

#1^ This program has performed an illegal operation I f c££ ;| 

%g& and will be shut down. \ --.......-. ; l 

If the problem persists, contact the program 



An illegal operation error has nothing 
to do with where you go online, which 
files you download, or how you use 
your PC. It actually refers to invalid or 
unauthorized program activity. 

and row after row of gibberish that 
means nothing to nonprogrammers. 

Resolve the situation by closing all 
open applications and rebooting. If you 
keep seeing the same error, use "clean 
boot troubleshooting" to identify the 
program involved and reinstall it. To 
perform a clean boot, open the Start 
menu, select Run, type msconfig in the 
field, and click OK. From the System 
Configuration Utility, choose the Sel- 
ective Startup option and deselect all 
but one of the checkboxes listed be- 
neath it. Click OK and reboot. Repeat 
the process, each time selecting a dif- 
ferent checkbox under Selective Start- 
up until you're able to identify the 
checkbox item that generates the error. 

The next step is to choose the tab 
within the System Configuration 
Utility that corresponds to the identi- 
fied checkbox and deselect all but one 
of the commands contained on that 
tab. Reboot and, if the PC boots with- 
out any trouble, return to the System 
Configuration Utility to select a dif- 
ferent command. Repeat until you iso- 
late the command that's responsible for 
generating the fatal exception error. 
After identifying the problematic com- 
mand, contact the relevant software 
developer or hardware manufacturer to 
obtain a specific solution. 

4. "Runtime error <###>" 

Runtime errors indicate that a pro- 
gram, which may or may not be iden- 
tified by the message, has encountered 
a morsel of buggy or corrupt code and 
crashed. The message also may in- 
clude an error code — such as "424" or 
"216" — or some other piece of eso- 
teric information — such as "Object re- 
quired" — that does little to explain 
why the error occurred or what you 
can do to prevent it. Was it caused 
by a virus infection? Not enough 

memory? Program incompatibility? 
Who knows. 

Whatever you do, dont reboot the 
PC. A virus may have caused the run- 
time error, and rebooting an infected 
machine exposes key system files to 
the harmful code. Instead, immedi- 
ately scan the PC for viruses and other 
malicious code. Next, contact the de- 
veloper of the software that caused the 
runtime error and ask about a fix. You 
may be able to rectify the situation 
simply by downloading an update or 
reconfiguring the software settings. 

5. "STOP: 0x########" 

Whereas a runtime error indicates a 
problem with a particular program, a 
STOP error usually indicates a problem 
with a particular device, but the mes- 
sage itself rarely specifies which one. 
Instead, the message presents cryptic 
hexadecimal code, such as 0x000000 IE, 
in lieu of explanation. Rather than 
guess, we suggest performing a few 
basic troubleshooting tasks. 

Start by scanning for viruses. Next, 
reinstall any recently installed hardware 
and verify that all other devices are 
connected properly. It's also a good 
idea to update the drivers for all ex- 
isting hardware (download the latest 
drivers for free by visiting the manu- 
facturers' sites) and update the BIOS 
(Basic Input/Output System) if you 
have an older PC. Contact the com- 
puter manufacturer for assistance in 
obtaining the latest BIOS. 

6. "A fatal exception error <##> has 
occurred at <####:########>" 

A fatal exception error message 
sounds bad and reveals little, but it 
usually indicates an internal error, such 
as an invalid memory request or a 
coding bug, and typically occurs when 

launching an application or opening 
or closing Windows. Fatal exception 
errors can be severe, which explains 
why they frequently appear on a blue 
screen and cause Windows to crash. 

Fatal exception errors come in many 
varieties. The fastest way to get rid of 
one is to reboot your PC. If the error 
continues to disrupt your computing 
sessions, try to pinpoint the source of 
the problem by performing a clean 
boot (as we described in #3). 

7. "<DEVICE> caused a general pro- 
tection fault in module <NAME> at 

The system-crashing GPF (General 
Protection Fault) is essentially a fatal 
exception error that failed to generate 
the two-digit code identifying it as 
an exception error. As such, Windows 
classifies the error as a GPF and pre- 
sents the bad news on a blue screen. 

You might see a GPF if a program 
attempts to write data to an off-limits 
storage area, for instance, or miscalcu- 
lates how much memory it needs to 
perform a function. The immediate 
workaround for a GPF is to reboot and 
cross your fingers. Because the range of 
possible causes is so broad, it's difficult 
to identify the particular source of a re- 
current GPF. Basic troubleshooting 
steps include reverting any recent 
system alterations (including software 
and hardware installations), per- 
forming general system maintenance 
tasks, and performing a clean boot. 

8. "Rundll: error loading <FILE>. The 
specified module could not be found." 

A Rundll error message appears 
when Windows can't locate a file it 
tried to load. The error may be linked 
to an incomplete uninstall, buggy 
software, a drive error, a virus infec- 
tion, or spyware. We advise you to 
run an anti-spyware utility (such as 
Ad-aware or Spybot Search & De- 
stroy) and then scan your system for 
viruses. If the error coincides with a 
recent uninstall, try reinstalling the 

Smart Computing /July 2005 97 

Tech Support 

.:..:•■.... :'•..'.'. ....... 

El C2.lop 

H CoreMetrics 

j [7] Doubleclick 

■*» €) 

software and uninstalling it again to 
ensure a clean removal. The last op- 
tion is to perform a clean boot (as we 
described in #3) so that you can iden- 
tify the particular command that's 
generating the error. 

9. "Cannot find the file <FILENAME> 
(or one of its components). Make sure 
the path and filename are correct and 
that all required libraries are available. " 

Like a headache, this error mes- 
sage can be a symptom of something 
minor (such as caffeine withdrawal 
or accidental file deletion) or some- 
thing major (such as a brain tumor or 
rampant virus infection). Get to the 
bottom of things by scanning for 
viruses and reinstalling the program as- 
sociated with the missing file. If the 
error persists, use My Computer or 
Windows Explorer to verify the file's 
precise name and location. 

This error may occur only when you 
double-click a Desktop shortcut. If 
that's the case, verify that the shortcut 
points to the correct file by right- 
clicking the troublesome shortcut, se- 
lecting Properties, and typing the file's 
correct name and location in the 
Target field on the Shortcut tab. 

10. "An error has occurred in the script 
on this page. Line: <##> Char: <##> 
Error: <ERROR> Code: <##> Location: 
<LOCATION> Do you want to con- 
tinue running scripts on this page?" 

This perplexing script error mes- 
sage indicates that Internet Explorer is 
having difficulties deciphering a set of 
commands embedded inside the Web 
page you're trying to access. This is an 

These days, Rundll errors are probably the result 
of spyware. Your computer can get spyware 
simply by visiting devious Web sites, opening 
questionable emails, and downloading certain 
freeware programs. To get rid of spyware, you 
need a program such as Spybot Search & Destroy. 

error message that makes the situa- 
tion look worse than it actually is. 

Eliminate the message simply by 
closing it. But if you continue to receive 
the message, try scanning for viruses, 
rebooting the PC, and upgrading to the 
latest IE version. You also should open 
the browser's Tools menu and select 
Internet Options so that you can empty 
the Temporary Internet Files folder 
(click the Delete Files button on the 
General tab) and configure the Security 
settings to the default level (click the 
Default Level button on the Security 
tab). In the end, this may simply be the 
result of a sloppily coded Web page, 
and there may be nothing you can do, 
other than inform the Webmaster. 

11. "Windows Update has encoun- 
tered an error and cannot display the 
requested page." 

A common fix for many errors in- 
volves installing the latest updates for 
Windows; that's what makes this par- 
ticular error message, which prevents 
you from accessing updates from the 
Windows Update site (windowsupdate, so distressing. How 
are you supposed to resolve the other 
issues when you can't get the updates? 

In most cases, you can work around 
the error by installing the latest IE ver- 
sion. Also, Windows XP and Windows 
2000 users should install the latest ser- 
vice pack for their OS (operating sys- 
tem). In WinXP, either activate Auto- 
mated Updates (open the Control 
Panel and select Performance And 
Maintenance, System, the Automatic 
Updates tab, and the Automatic radio 
button) or order the service pack on 
CD by visiting 
/sp2/cdorder/en_us. Win2000 users 
can download the service pack from 

12. "Windows encountered an error 
accessing the system Registry. 
Windows will restart and repair the 
system Registry for you." 

The Registry, a database of system 
settings and user preferences, is per- 
haps the most fragile component of 
Windows OSes. Even the slightest con- 
figuration blunder in the Registry will 
cause the system to collapse, which ex- 
plains why this error message is one 
that you must take seriously. 

Start by creating free space on the 
Windows drive (the drive where Win- 
dows is installed). Delete old files and 
software you haven't used in a while. 
As a rule of thumb, preserve at least 
10% of a drive's total capacity as free 
space. Next, Windows Me and WinXP 
users should restore the PC to its pre- 
error condition. Open the Start menu 
and click All Programs (Programs in 
WinMe), Accessories, System Tools, 
and System Restore. When the System 
Restore utility opens, select Restore My 
Computer To An Earlier Time, click 
Next, and select a restore point that 
predates the error message. Then, 
follow the rest of the on-screen instruc- 
tions to complete the restoration. 

Drive The Dozen Out Of Dodge 

With an accurate diagnosis and a 
little luck, you can resolve most of the 
technical issues that cause these error 
messages. The better option, however, 
is to avoid them in the first place. Stick 
to a vigorous maintenance schedule 
that includes daily antivirus scans, 
weekly hard drive scans, and ongoing 
spyware prevention. Keep your PC cur- 
rent with the latest software updates 
and device drivers. Install only neces- 
sary software and discourage others 
from using your computer when you 
aren't around. Vigilance and discipline 
will keep error messages at bay. II 

by Jeff Dodd 

98 July 2005 / 

Tech Support 

Examining Errors 

by Jeff Dodd 

Problem: A reader installed 

Symantec's Norton SystemWorks 

2004 on his computer, which runs 

Windows XP. After using the utility 

suite's One Button Checkup feature, 

he began receiving a missing file 

error message. The reader can 

close the message, and his PC 

continues to function normally. 

Error Message: "C:\Program 

Files\Common Files\InstallShield\ 


DotNetInstaller.exe cannot access a 

necessary file, c Mscoree.dll.'" 

Solution: Symantec's diagnostic 
software is designed to look for prob- 
lems. In this case, One Button Checkup 
discovered the presence of the DotNet- 
Installer.exe file deep inside the Install- 
Shield folder on the Windows drive, 
but it failed to detect the associated 
.NET Framework utility that is re- 
quired to run the file. The discrepancy 
between file and program resulted in 
the error message. The reader can 
eliminate the error simply by 
obtaining a few software 
updates for his PC. 

The reader should 
start by downloading 
and installing WinXP 
SP2 (Service Pack 2) 
if he hasn't done so 
already. To get SP2, 
the reader can visit 
the Windows Up- 
date Web site 


■ •■■■■■■T- 

Micro soft'^ 


( and 
follow its instructions to download 
and install SP2. When the installation 
is complete, he should reboot his PC 
and return to the Windows Update 
site to download the Microsoft .NET 
Framework update (if available). This, 
like SP2, can be a hefty download, 
weighing as much as 23MB, de- 
pending on the version. When the 
download finishes, the reader should 
locate the file on his PC and 
double-click it to launch 
the installation. He 
can follow the on- 
screen instructions 
to complete the in- 
stallation, and he 
should reboot his 
computer when he's 
finished. These steps 
should take care of the 
error message. 

Problem: Since upgrading to 
WinXP SP2, a reader receives a 
keyboard- related error message each 
time he tries to put his computer in 
Standby mode. In an attempt to re- 
solve the issue, he searched for new 
drivers for his Microsoft Natural 
Keyboard but was unable to find any. 

Error Message: "The device driver 
for the 'Standard 101/102-Key or 
Microsoft Natural PS/2 
Keyboard' device is pre- 
venting the machine from 
entering standby. Please 
close all applications and 
try again. If the problem 
persists, you may need 
to update this driver." 




Solution: We have to commend the 
reader for heeding the text of the 
error message and attempting to re- 
solve the issue on his own. Unfor- 
tunately, the message is misleading. 
The real error in this situation is the 
result of a conflict between a font 
management utility called Adobe 
Type Manager and the power man- 
agement features in WinXP. The 
reader can eliminate the error by 
uninstalling Adobe Type Manager. To 
do so, he should open the Con- 
trol Panel and access the Add Or 
Remove Programs option. From 
the Add Or Remove Programs 


TypeManag er Deluxe 

dialog box, he should highlight Adobe 
Type Manager in the list of currently 
installed programs and click its corre- 
sponding Change/Remove button. He 
should follow the on-screen instruc- 
tions to finish uninstalling the pro- 
gram and then reboot his computer. 

If the reader depends on Adobe Type 
Manager for business or hobby pur- 
poses, he'll have to find an alternative 
solution. One suggestion involves up- 
grading to the latest version, Adobe 
Type Manager Deluxe, which sells for 
$65 as a download or $69 on CD-ROM 
win. html). A freeware version with 
limited functionality is also avail- 
able at 
ucts/atmlight/main.html. If our 
suggestions don't solve the prob- 
lem, the reader can try to live 
with the conflict by avoiding 
Standby mode altogether. 

Smart Computing /July 2005 99 

Tech Support 

Problem: A reader reports the pres- 
ence of an annoying error message 
each time he starts his PC, which runs 
WinXP. The error refers to a program 
he isn't familiar with. He can close 
the message (which also prompts him 
to report the error to Microsoft) and 
continue using his computer 
without further trouble. 

Error Message: "Lite Installer 

has encountered a problem and 

needs to close. We are sorry 

for the inconvenience." 

I i \ ' ! i i t f ! I I I 1 I 1 \ I I 1 I 

Solution: After researching this topic, 
we believe this error is linked to the 
BackWeb Lite adware program, which, 
in the words of its developer, "allows 
vendors to pro -actively distribute con- 
tent to their users." The reader's anti- 
spyware application may have par- 
tially removed BackWeb Lite from the 
system, leaving just enough residue to 
result in the error message. Removing 
the remaining debris can challenge the 
most seasoned computer users, so we 
advise the reader to proceed with cau- 
tion. Better to live with an error mes- 
sage that is merely annoying than one 
(or more) that prevents him from using 
his computer at all. Having said that, if 
the reader feels confident in his tech- 
nical abilities, we suggest he attempt a 
few basic troubleshooting tasks. 

First, he should obtain and run a 
second anti-spyware utility, such as Ad- 
aware SE Personal (free; www.lavasoft 
.com) or Spybot Search & Destroy (free;, which may 
have more success at removing Back- 
Web. Sometimes the second utility will 
pick up something the first one missed. 

He then should visit Windows 
Update (windowsupdate. microsoft 
.com) and download all the critical up- 
dates currently available for his PC. 
After rebooting, the reader should 
open the Control Panel and access 
Add Or Remove Programs. In the 
dialog box, he should scan the 
list of currently installed pro- 
grams. If he finds BackWeb 
listed there, he should remove it 
by clicking the associated Remove or 
Change/Remove button. He also should 
remove Kodak, Logitech, and Western 
Digital software. Programs from these 
companies have been known to come 
bundled with BackWeb software. 

We also suggest that the reader open 
the Start menu, select Run, type regedit 
in the field, and click OK. (Before 
making any changes to the Registry, of 
course, the reader must be sure he has a 

backup of it just in case something goes 
wrong.) When the Registry Editor ap- 
pears on-screen, he should locate the 
scan its contents for references to 
BackWeb.exe, Liteinst.exe, or any other 
file that mentions BackWeb or Lite 
Installer. If he finds such a reference, he 
should delete the offending value by 
right- clicking it, selecting Delete from 
the pop -up menu, and clicking Yes to 
verify his actions. He then should access 
peat the process. The reader can close 
the Registry Editor and reboot the 
system when he's done. 

Next, the reader should search his 
hard drive for the BackWeb- or Lite- 
related files he found referenced in 
the Registry. He can access the Search 
utility by opening the Start menu and 
selecting the Search option. From the 
Search Results dialog box, he should 
click the All Files And Folders option 
and follow the remaining on-screen in- 
structions to search for the offending 
files. He then should delete any files he 
finds. When he reboots the computer, 
the error should be gone for good. 

At this point, the reader can reinstall 
the Kodak, Logitech, or Western Digital 
software he removed earlier in the 
process. He should reboot the com- 
puter between each installation and 
check for the recurring presence of the 
error message to determine if one of 
these programs is the BackWeb carrier. 
If he determines that it is, he should 
uninstall the program once again and 
repeat the steps described above to 
clean the Registry and hard drive of re- 
lated residue. Obviously, he shouldn't 
reinstall the carrier program. He can try 
contacting the software developer to 
find out if a BackWeb -free version of 
the software is available. 

Have questions about an error message you've seen? Send us your message (, and 

we'll try to decipher it. Tell us what version of Windows you're using, give the full text of the error message, 

and provide as many details in your explanation as possible. Volume prohibits individual replies. 

100 July 2005 / 

Tech Support 

Fast Fixes 

Update For Word 2002 

Problem: Word 2002 has a flaw that 
could allow a malevolent program, 
such as a virus, to infect your com- 
puter when you open a document 
altered by a cracker. 

Solution: Download and install 
this Microsoft update to patch the 
problem. To download the update, 
type the URL (uniform resource 
locator) we listed below in the Ad- 
dress field of your browser window. 
After Microsoft's Download Center 
page loads, type KB887978 in the 
Keywords text box and click Go. Click 
the link named Security Update For 
Word 2002 (KB887978). Read the in- 
structions on this page very carefully. 
If you have the CD-ROM containing 
Word 2002, at the bottom of the page, 
click the Officexp-kb887978-client- 
enu.exe link to download the appro- 
priate file. If you don't have your 
CD-ROM, click the Officexp-kb8 
87978-fullfile-enu.exe link instead. 
When the file transfer is complete, 
double- click the downloaded file and 
follow the on-screen prompts to 
complete the installation. 

Cumulative Update For Internet 
Explorer & Windows XP Service Pack 2 

Problem: If you use IE and WinXP 
with SP2 (Service Pack 2), your version 
of IE might have a vulnerability that 
could let a cracker take over your PC. 

Solution: Download and install this 
3.9MB update to repair this security 
hole. To download the update, type 
the URL we listed below in the Ad- 
dress field of your browser window. 
After Microsoft's Download Center 
page loads, type KB890923 in the 
Keywords text box and click Go. Click 

the link named Cumulative Security 
Update For Internet Explorer For XP 
Service Pack 2 (KB890923), dated 
April 12, 2005. After the next page 
loads, look at the right side of the page 
and click Download. When the file 
transfer is complete, double-click the 
file (WindowsXP-KB890923-x86- 
ENU.exe) and follow the on-screen 
prompts to complete the installation. 
Security Update For Windows 2000 

Problem: Microsoft has identified 
a flaw in Win2000 that could let a 
cracker take control of your computer. 

Solution: Download and install this 
1.7MB update to repel attackers. To 
download the update, type the URL 
we listed below in the Address field of 
your browser window. After Micro- 
soft's Download Center page loads, 
type KB893086 in the Keywords text 
box and click Go. Click the link 
named Security Update For Windows 
2000 (KB893086), dated April 11, 
2005. After the next page loads, look at 
the right side of the page and click 
Download. When the file transfer 
is complete, double-click the file 
ENU.exe) and follow the on-screen 
prompts to complete the installation. 

Service Pack For 

Problem: You experience various 
problems while using Ulead's Media- 
Studio Pro 7. 

Solution: Download and install 
MediaStudio Pro 7 Service Pack 3. To 
download the update, type the URL 
we listed below in the Address field of 

your browser window. In the list of 
programs on the page that appears, 
find Ulead MediaStudio Pro, click the 
Update Packs icon, and then click the 
MediaStudio Pro 7.0 link. Click either 
the Site 1 or Site 2 link to begin the file 
transfer. If the transfer is extremely 
slow, try the other site. After the file 
transfer is complete, double-click the 
file (Msp7_sp3_e.exe) to begin the in- 
stallation process. Dial-up users 
shouldn't try to download this file be- 
cause it's more than 24MB; instead, 
they should contact Ulead to request 
the service pack on CD. 

Fix Of The Month 

Security Update For WinXP 

Problem: WinXP has a program- 
ming defect that could let a cracker 
take over your computer and steal 
or damage your data. 

Solution: Download and install 
this 967KB update to prevent an 
attack. To download the update, 
type the URL we listed below in 
the Address field of your browser 
window. After Microsoft's Down- 
load Center page loads, type 
KB892944 in the Keywords text 
box and click Go. Click the link 
named Security Update For Win- 
dows XP (KB892944), dated April 
11, 2005. After the next page loads, 
look at the right side of the page 
and click Download. When the file 
transfer is complete, double-click 
the file (WindowsXP-KB892944- 
x86-ENU.exe) and follow the 
on-screen prompts to complete 
the installation. 

Smart Computing /July 2005 101 

Tech Support Q&A 

Need help with your hardware or software? Looking for simple 
explanations on technical subjects? Send us your questions! 

Get straight answers to your technical questions from Smart Computing. Send your questions, 
along with a phone and/or fax number, so we can call you if necessary, to: Smart Computing Q&A, 
P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501, or email us at q& Please include all 
version numbers for the software about which you're inquiring, operating system information, 
and any relevant information about your system. (Volume prohibits individual replies.) 


Ql soon plan to defragment the hard drive 
of a computer that I purchased almost a 
year ago. When I performed defrags on my pre- 
vious computer, I disabled the screen saver and 
McAfee VirusScan. Now I have a Dell Dimension 
8300 running Windows XP SP2 (Service Pack 2) 
and using a cable Internet connection. I also 
have McAfee's VirusScan, Personal Firewall 
Plus, and Privacy Service. Should I disable all 
three of these programs during the defrag ses- 
sion? Because I'm always connected to the 
Internet, if I disable all my protection, won't 
that leave me vulnerable to virus attacks, 
etc.? The hard drive is 120GB (though most of it 
is free space), so the defrag session will probably 
take a longtime. 

ADefragging your hard drive is an impor- 
tant maintenance procedure for your 
computer. The defrag utility bundled with 
WinXP, Disk Defragmenter, works best when it 
has uninterrupted access to your hard drive. 
This means you should close and/or deactivate 
all of the programs you normally have running. 
Of course, with an always- on Internet con- 
nection, you're prudent to be concerned about 
shutting off your firewall. Our recommenda- 
tion is to disconnect your computer from 

your cable modem and then disable the 
McAfee applications before defragging your 
drive. When the defragmentation process is 
complete, restart the McAfee applications and 
reconnect your computer to the cable modem. 

Also, there are several tactics you can use 
to speed up the defrag process. The first is to 
do it frequently. We recommend defragging 
your hard drive at least once a month. This 
will reduce the amount of time required for 
each defragmentation cycle, and you should 
notice a significant increase in Windows' per- 
formance speed. 

In addition, consider using a third-party 
defrag utility, such as Diskeeper 9 (www.exec Diskeeper 9 has two specific bene- 
fits we like. The first one is that you can con- 
figure it to defragment your drive continually. 
This feature works silently in the background, 
helping to prevent your drive from becoming 
fragmented in the first place. The second ben- 
efit is that Diskeeper 9 has a high-speed de- 
fragmentation system that — when we've used 
it — is roughly three times as fast as Windows' 
Disk Defragmenter. 

Diskeeper 9 has a price tag of $19.95, but 
there's also a free trial version you can down- 
load from the company's Web site. 


Q While searching for Doubleclick spyware, I 
found it in a folder called G32D2hyl at: 

That folder is 3.39MB and contains 612 files, in- 
eluding one called Doubleclick. Do you have any 
idea what that folder is? Can I empty it? 

A When you visit a Web site with Internet 
Explorer, the browser stores Internet files 
in a cache. These files range from HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) pages to 
graphics. That way, when you visit the site for a 

second time, IE checks to see if any of the files 
have changed, and if they haven't, it loads them 
from your cache. This can dramatically de- 
crease the amount of time it takes IE to display 
a Web page. Instead of having to retrieve the 
page from a server via the Internet, it simply 
pulls the page off of your hard drive. 

Each browsing session creates its own sub- 
TENT.IE5. There's nothing particularly infor- 
mative about the subfolder's name, and over 
time, you'll accumulate quite a few cached 

102 July 2005 / 

Tech Support 


files that aren't necessary to retain. In the case 
of the folder holding the DoubleClick spy- 
ware, you obviously don't want this left on 
your system. 

The best way to prune your Internet cache is 
through IE itself. Launch IE, open the Tools 
menu, click Internet Options, choose the General 
Tab, find the section labeled Temporary Internet 

Files, click Delete Files, select the Delete All 
Offline Content checkbox, and click OK. You 
also can control how much space is allocated to 
cached Internet files from this dialog box. In the 
same section, click Settings. Next, use the slider 
below Amount Of Disk Space To Use to adjust 
how much space IE can have for caching files and 
then click OK to save your changes. 


QMy PC is a Dell 2400 running Windows XP 
Professional, and I have two problems that 
I've been trying to solve. First, I have a StartPage- 
DU.dll virus that I cannot eliminate. It appears 
whenever I open a Web page. Although my 
McAfee program provides an alert stating that the 
StartPage-DU.dll virus has been detected and 
cleaned, the virus shows itself again the next time I 
open another Web site. 

Second, the speed of my PC is getting slower 
and slower. In terms of sending emails, it takes over 
a minute to send a one-word email via AOL. I fre- 
quently receive a message saying that AOL is not 
responding. My ISP (Internet service provider) isn't 
the problem, though, because I can connect my 
Sony VAIO laptop to the Internet using the same 
ISP and quickly send and receive emails. 

A The problems you're experiencing are 
common to anyone who suffers from an 
infestation of malware (malicious software). 
First, you can't get rid of the troublesome pro- 
gram; second, it starts to drastically affect your 
computer's performance and stability. Fortun- 
ately, there is a way to safely remove this Trojan 
horse from your system for good. 

The only tool you need to remove Start- 
Page-DU.dll is already in your arsenal: 
McAfee VirusScan. Not only is McAfee de- 
tecting the Trojan menace, it's removing it 
when it can. The problem lies in a WinXP fea- 
ture that usually helps provide a safety net for 
your OS (operating system): System Restore. 

Whenever you install a program in WinXP, 
the OS takes a snapshot of your system before 

installing the new program. This provides you 
with a way to roll back to your previous 
system configuration if the new program 
causes problems. For the most part, System 
Restore is a good utility to have around. 
However, McAfee can't clean out the files 
archived by System Restore, which means that 
the Trojan application can continually reinfect 
your system unless you follow some steps to 
thoroughly remove it. 

First of all, you need to disable System 
Restore so that McAfee can clean out the 
Trojan. To do so open the Start menu, right- 
click My Computer, click Properties, and 
choose the System Restore tab. Select the Turn 
Off System Restore checkbox, click OK, and 
then click Yes when prompted. 

Next, use McAfee VirusScan to scan your 
system; it should detect the Trojan again and 
properly remove it. When you finish, re- enable 
System Restore by opening the Start menu, 
right-clicking My Computer, clicking Prop- 
erties, choosing the System Restore tab, dese- 
lecting the Turn Off System Restore checkbox, 
and clicking OK. 

Although we're pretty confident that this 
Trojan is the source of the dramatic slow- 
down in your computer's performance, we 
recommend that you download and install 
Spybot Search & Destroy from www.safer- Spybot S&D is a free utility 
that will remove any existing spyware that 
may be slowing down your system. Spybot 
S&D also will help protect your system 
against future infections. 


Ql recently purchased a Dell XPS computer. 
I specified that I wanted a 160GB hard 
drive, and even though my invoice indicates 
that I have the hard drive I requested, my com- 
puter settings indicate otherwise. When I 
opened My Computer, right-clicked the icon 
representing my C: drive, and clicked Properties, 
the dialog box that displayed showed 11GB of 

used space and 135GB of free space for a total 
drive capacity of 146GB. I called Dell, and at first 
its representative tried to tell me this was the 
fault of the OS, but I told them I could see 
where the OS was loaded and what space it was 
accounting for. A Dell sales rep then got on the 
phone and told me that file allocation tables 
consume a portion of the drive and that when 

Smart Computing /July 2005 103 

Tech Support 


people purchase a 160GB drive, they don't really 
get all of that space. I checked the startup sec- 
tion of my computer (the bootup portion), and 
it does list the drive as having 160GB of space. I 
would just like to know where the other 14GB 
of space is hiding out. 

A What you've run into is a common clash 
between drive manufacturers and how 
Windows views the space on a hard drive. This 
problem isn't unique to Dell computers or any 
other vendors' products, nor is it a trick by hard 
drive manufacturers to defraud you. The root of 
this particular problem lies in how a hard dri- 
ve's capacity is measured by various sources. 

When you view your hard drive in Win- 
dows Explorer, Windows determines how many 
bytes of data each partition holds. To Win- 
dows, 1GB has 1,024MB of storage capacity or 
1,073,741,824 bytes. This is because Windows 
uses binary notation to represent data storage. 
However, hard drive manufacturers calculate 
that 1GB represents 1 billion bytes. Who's right? 
Both sides are correct. The "giga" prefix (as well 
as "tera" and "mega") is ambiguous when used 
in computer terminology. Although using the 
various prefixes to describe storage is handy, it 
does lead to confusion. 

How does this work out in real life? As you've 
discovered, Windows indicates that your hard 
drive's capacity is 156,766,306,304 bytes (146GB). 
For Windows to "see" a 160GB drive, there would 
have to be 171,798,691,840 bytes of storage space 
on the drive. But according to the way your hard 
drive manufacturer calculates hard drive capacity, 
there should be 160,000,000,000 bytes of storage 
space on the drive. And the problem only gets 
worse as drives increase in size. In your current 
situation, you've "lost" approximately 9% of the 
storage you expected. However, when you order 
your next computer with a 100TB (terabyte) 
drive, you'll "lose" almost 10TB of capacity to this 
naming nomenclature. 

Also, the sales representative you spoke 
with also brought up a small, though not in- 
consequential, fact. When you format and 
partition a hard drive, a small amount of space 
is needed to hold the structure and layout of 
your partitioning scheme. This is how your 
OS knows where to find existing files and 
where it can store new files. But this necessity 
doesn't consume that much space, regardless 
of the size of your hard drive. The average 
system will use only 1% to 2% of your hard 
drive space for storing the information about 
your partitioning scheme. 


Ql have a close relative who cannot contact 
me via email. All of his messages to me (but 
no one else) are returned to him. His daughter, 
who uses the same ISP, didn't have any trouble re- 
ceiving his messages until recently, and now those 
messages are returned, as well. From what we've 
been able to find out, this seems to have some- 
thing to do with SORBS (Spam and Open Relay 
Blocking System). The Web site suggests that I can 
find out if he is on its blacklist, and it can remove 
him for a fee. This sounds like a spam scam! Please 
help two happy, cheerful old men from becoming 
two very grumpy old men. I know that there are 
many people who are experiencing the same prob- 
lems, so can you explain why and tell us how 
SORBS works? 

A SORBS is a system used by ISPs to help 
control the spread of UCE (unsolicited 
commercial email), more commonly known as 
spam. We'll explain some common spam tech- 
niques to help you understand why some ISPs 
choose to use SORBS. 

When a spammer wants to send out UCE to 
thousands of email addresses, he faces a 
problem. Most reputable ISPs won't offer ser- 
vices to known spammers and will cancel 
spammer accounts when notified about the 
spammers' activities. This leaves spammers 
with two options. The first is to find an email 
server that allows relaying. 

Most email servers require you to connect to 
their network before using their email server to 
send out your emails. For example, to send 
email from Smart Computing's email server, 
you need to be authorized by our email server 
or connected to our network. This prevents 
spammers from relaying email using our server 
and network connection. 

Unfortunately, not all network administra- 
tors properly set up their email servers to pre- 
vent relaying. When an email server is 
misconfigured in this way, it's considered 
an open relay. Open relays allow spammers to 
hijack legitimate email servers for their own 
nefarious marketing purposes. 

104 July 2005 / 

Tech Support 


The second option for spammers is to hijack 
computers through the use of spyware pro- 
grams, which convert PCs connected to the 
Internet into email servers. With the preva- 
lence of high-speed Internet connections, a 
hijacked home computer can email thousands 
of spam messages an hour. 

To combat these problems, ISPs use a con- 
tinually updated list of email servers that are 
known to be open relays or that have willingly 
sent out UCE. There are many such lists, but 
SORBS is one of the more prominent. When 
an email server on this "blacklist" tries to con- 
nect to an ISP, the ISP checks the blacklist and 
then blocks the server's incoming email. In 
doing so, the ISP usually includes a reply to 

each email that tells the offending email server 
why its email was rejected. 

From your description, it sounds like a 
computer connected to your relative's ISP is 
acting as an open relay or deliberately sending 
UCE. It also means that your ISP uses SORBS 
to block UCE. Our recommendation is to 
have your relative contact his ISP to find out 
what is required to be removed from the 
SORBS list. We're not sure what Web site you 
checked and found a note about paying a 
fee to be removed from a blacklist, but to the 
best of our knowledge, there's no fee required 
for this. Once the ISP reconfigures its email 
server, SORBS will test it and remove it from 
the SORBS blacklist. 


QAs per your recommendation in the Decem- 
ber 2004 Smart Computing issue, I down- 
loaded Foxmail and got rid of that troublesome 
Outlook Express program. However, when I tried to 
use Foxmail, I received four or five warnings from 
Spybot Search & Destroy, so I deleted Foxmail 
and am now using Mozilla, which looks more 
promising. Do you have any kind of an explanation 
for the warnings I received while using Foxmail? 

A To check out this problem, we down- 
loaded and installed the Foxmail client 
from its site (, 
and then we used Spybot S&D to see if Foxmail 

installed any spyware or other malware during 
its installation process. Spybot S&D gave our 
system a clean bill of health. However, this 
doesn't prove that the version of Foxmail you 
installed didn't have embedded spyware; it 
just indicates that the current Foxmail version 
is clean. 

Our experience with Mozilla's Thunderbird 
(free; is that it's an excellent 
email client. If you decide to stick with 
Thunderbird, we're sure you won't be disap- 
pointed. On the other hand, if you want to give 
Foxmail another try, be sure to run Spybot 
S&D again after you install it. 


Ql have a 1 -year-old Compaq 5320US with a 
Pentium 4 processor and WinXP. Since I 
purchased the computer, I've received two faxes 
from one family member. And even though no 
one else has my fax number, I occasionally re- 
ceive a notification when I log on that there was 
an attempt to deliver a fax which failed, and it's 
not from the family member who has my num- 
ber. I've been unable to do anything to correct 
this problem. 

A Fax machines sometimes become vic- 
tims of "junk faxes," which are adver- 
tisements directly faxed to several fax ma- 
chines at once. Junk faxers often discover fax 
machine numbers by making connection at- 
tempts to a series of numbers, hoping to find 
some that respond with a fax signal. Chances 
are your PC is either being contacted by a 

junk faxer or someone who is legitimately 
trying to fax a third party with a fax number 
that's similar to your number. If the delivery 
notification error you receive is always from 
the same originating telephone number, 
it's probably from someone trying to fax a 
third party. 

Our recommendation is to only run your 
fax software when you need to send a fax or 
expect to receive a fax. By following our advice, 
not only will you decrease the amount of at- 
tempts in which unknown parties try to send 
you faxes, but you'll also improve your com- 
puter security. Having your computer ready to 
answer an incoming fax transmission at all 
times also means that you're making your 
computer accessible to the outside world, and 
a mischievous person could access your phone 
line and infiltrate your computer. 

Smart Computing /July 2005 105 

Tech Support 



Answers to users' most common questions about 

GettingMore From Laser Printers 

Q A /^\ Toner is very expensive. Are there any steps 
l/\ v/ that I can take to save toner? 

Saving money on toner usually involves a combination 
of conservation and recycling. Conservation is easy. Set 
your laser printer to its "draft" or "economy" mode for 
all but your most important printing jobs. Conservation 
settings are usually located in the printer's Printing 
Preferences dialog box, but the exact name and location 
can vary depending on the printer's manufacturer and 
model (refer to your printer's documentation). To see 
your Printing Preferences dialog box, open the Control 
Panel (via the Start menu), click Printers And Faxes (in 
Printers And Other Hardware category in Windows XP), 
right-click the icon representing the printer in question, 
and click Printing Preferences. 

You also can save toner by omitting large, complex 
graphics from draft printouts. You can usually accom- 
plish this through whatever application you're working 
in. For example, in Microsoft Word, open the File menu, 
click Print, click the Options button, select the Draft 
Output checkbox, deselect the Drawing Objects check- 
box, and click OK to close the dialog boxes. Afterward, 
when you print the draft document, it should appear a 
bit lighter, with no graphic elements. When you're ready 
to print the final document, just reconfigure those 
options accordingly. 

Using remanufactured toner cartridges is another 
potential cost-savings strategy, but you'll need to see 
your printer's documentation to find out if using a 
third-party cartridge will void your warranty. In addi- 
tion, see if the manufacturer documents which types of 
remanufactured cartridges it approves (also check its 
Web site for more details). If you're able to use reman- 
ufactured toner cartridges, make sure you shop around 
for the best deals (including online sources), check the 
expiration date (sealed cartridges only have about a 

two-year shelf life), and make sure the retailer offers 
some type of warranty. 

Recycling your toner cartridges is another way to go. 
Many printer manufacturers offer recycling programs for 
their users. For instance, Lexmark ( 
has been running its cartridge-collection program for 13 
years. When you purchase a Lexmark cartridge, you can 
use the instructions and shipping labels it provides at its 
site to return your used cartridge, and the company will 
reuse and resell the recycled cartridges for much less than 
new cartridges. HP also offers a cartridge -recycling pro- 
gram. For more details, see HP's Product Recycling page 
(h200 1 . 

Q A /~\ Why does toner seem to rub off on my fin- 
l/\ v/ gers as I handle printed pages? It isn't sup- 
posed to do that, is it? 

Laser printers use heat to melt the toner powder, and 
they use pressure to squeeze the molten toner into the 
fibers of a page. When some residual toner rubs off on 
your fingers, it means that the toner isn't fully fixing it- 
self to the paper. This can happen if the paper is damp 
(from excess humidity), unusually thin, or includes 
some type of specialty coating. Try using some fresh 
20-pound xerography-grade paper and see if that helps. 
If the problem persists, there may be an issue with 
the printer's fusing unit that will require service from the 
printer's manufacturer. 

Q A /~\ My laser printer is a bit old, and lately I've 
l/\ v/ noticed ugly marks repeating every few inches 
down the page. Can you tell me what the problem is? 

Laser printers work by creating latent images on a 
rotating, light-sensitive drum and then attracting toner 
to exposed points on that drum. If any point on the 
drum's light-sensitive surface is damaged, you may no- 
tice that toner is always attracted to that point, thereby 
transferring to the final page and appearing as a re- 
peating mark. Because the drum is a cylinder, such 
marks will appear at equal distances down the page, 
corresponding to each rotation of the drum (maybe 
every two inches, for example). 

The only solution to this problem is to replace the 
drum. For most low-cost home printers, the drum is 
part of the toner assembly and is automatically replaced 
each time you install a new toner cartridge (which ex- 
plains part of the cartridge's high cost). More indus- 
trial-strength laser printers place the drum on a 
separate EP (electrophotographic) "engine" that can be 
replaced in just a few easy steps. Check your printer's 
documentation and replace the appropriate assembly 
(or have someone do it for you), and the repeating 
marks should go away. II 

106 July 2005 / 

Tech Support 


Are you having trouble 
finding a product or 
getting adequate service 
from a manufacturer? If 
so, we want to help solve 
your problem. Send us 
a description of the 
product you're seeking 
or the problem you're 
having with customer 
service. In billing dis- 
putes include relevant 
information (such as ac- 
count numbers or screen 
names for online ser- 
vices) and photocopies 
of checks. Include your 
phone number in case 
we need to contact you. 

Letters may be edited 
for length and clarity; 
volume prohibits 
individual replies. 

Write to: 
Action Editor 
P.O. Box 85380 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380 

Or send email to: 


Or fax us at: 

Data Recovery & 

A Lemon PC Replacement 

/ was having some minor problems 
with my HP Pavilion and contacted HP 
for technical support. I eventually reached 
someone who seemed to have a solution. I was 
told we needed to perform a "nondestructive 
system restore" to solve the problem. Unfortun- 
ately for me, the procedure name wasn't an apt 
one. I asked repeatedly about the safety of my 
personal data and was assured this process 
would not harm any existing data on the system. 
After the process was over, I went to open Micro- 
soft Word only to find it gone along with my per- 
sonal data (records, photos, genealogy data, etc.). 
None of my personal data or any of the applica- 
tions I installed survived the "nondestructive" 
restore. I can reinstall my applications, and / do 
have some of personal data backed up (genealogy 
data, for instance); nonetheless, I have a consider- 
able amount of personal data that wasn't backed 
up— data that I'm afraid is completely lost due to 
a mistake by an HP representative. Is there any- 
thing I can do to recover my lost data? 

Henry Kimpel 
Livonia, Mich. 

Data recovery is a bit beyond what we 
can accomplish for "Action Editor/' but we 
thought we might be able to get compensa- 
tion for Henry by contacting an HP repre- 
sentative to explain Henry's misfortune. 
Meanwhile, Henry took his hard drive to a 
data recovery service and managed to success- 
fully recover his personal data at a cost of 
$212. Henry also sent a detailed note regarding 
his case to HP. While out of state, Henry re- 
turned a call from HP's customer service de- 
partment. The HP representative said they 
were having trouble tracking down the sup- 
port person originally responsible. Henry, 
however, maintained detailed notes on what 
started out as a minor tech support issue. Due 
to the details and terminology in Henry's 
notes, it was clear to the company that 

Henry's situation was clearly a result of some- 
one at HP. Therefore, HP agreed to send Henry 
a check for $212. The check, dated March 31, 
was waiting for Henry when he returned to 
Michigan in early April. 

In January 2004, 1 purchased a Gateway 610 
Media Center PC from a local Gateway store. 
Shortly after the purchase, Gateway closed its 
local stores, forcing me to ship my computer to 
Texas for repairs. During 2004, 1 had to send the 
system in for repairs seven times. Due to the lack 
of a local service location, I was without my com- 
puter for a week or two each time. In July 2004 
Gateway replaced my original 610 Media Center, 
but I continued having problems with the re- 
placement. When I experienced more problems 
in February 2005, 1 sent in the system, requested 
a partial refund, and purchased another system 
from a different manufacturer. Gateway, how- 
ever, informed me that it wasn't its policy to issue 
refunds after 75 days. The company did offer to 
replace the system if I had any more problems 
with it, but as I said, I've already replaced the 
system. I get nowhere talking to Gateway's cus- 
tomer service. Is there anything else I can try? 

Dick Milholland 
Asheville, N.C 

We were very impressed with how quickly 
Gateway acted to resolve this issue. We 
emailed a public relations representative ex- 
plaining Dick's case and received an email from 
Gateway the next day asking for additional in- 
formation so it could check the relevant files. 
We provided the necessary information that 
afternoon, and a few hours later, Gateway 
contacted Dick to discuss his problems and 
exceeded his expectations by offering him a 
complete refund (minus shipping and han- 
dling). Dick returned the system, and a couple 
of weeks later, he received a full refund. 

Smart Computing /July 2005 107 

E d 


a I 


A Nice, Relaxing Trip 
To The Entropies 

Now that we're having 
some pleasant weather, 
my wife and I enjoy sit- 
ting out on our back deck, 
basking in the sun, and drink- 
ing nice, tall glasses of iced 
tea. If we sit very calmly, and 
if we listen closely, especially 
during the quiet of the even- 
ing, we can hear strange noises 
coming from our garage: This is 
the sound of Ford automobile 
parts decaying. 

As I may have mentioned before, I 
drive a 1969 Ford Bronco, and I do so for three 
reasons. First, it's paid for. Because I have two daughters in 
college, this is a meaningful consideration. Second, I like old 
Broncos; I actually enjoy working on cars, and older cars are 
the only ones I can understand. (The newer ones have engines 
that have been stuck sideways in the engine compartment. 
And they don't have carburetors! As far as I can tell, they 
shouldn't run at all, but they do, somehow. It's a mystery.) 

But the third reason I drive an old car is the most impor- 
tant one: It's my own personal statement in the ongoing war 
against entropy. 

Entropy, as you probably know, is the tendency of all 
matter to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity. (In 
other words, to unwind and unravel until — no matter how 
good it looked or how well it worked at first — it finally falls 
apart at the end. Kind of like a Minnesota Vikings season.) 

Keeping an old car running is an anti-entropic statement 
of the most basic kind. It's equivalent to thumbing your 
nose at the universe and saying, "Ha! See that? I can keep 
this old thing going in spite of the fact that every single, 
cheaply made, poorly aligned part wants desperately to 
crumble into dust. Why, with enough duct tape and WD- 
40, I could pretty much hold the entire universe together!" 
(Now, my wife has warned me that thumbing one's nose at 
the universe is not a good idea. The universe, apparently, 
has ways of getting back at you. Stay tuned.) 

Naturally, entropy also affects your computer. (You 
knew I'd eventually get to computers, right?) From the day 
you bought it, you've been engaged in a sometimes frantic 
and often frustrating anti-entropic undertaking: You've 
patched operating systems, installed updates, purchased 
newer, better security software, installed new hardware, 
and then purchased new hardware to allow you to use the 
new hardware you just installed. If you didn't do that, 

entropy (and virus-writing miscre- 
ants) would start winning the war 
against your computer. 

Of course, the eventual ten- 
dency here is to get tired of 
fighting the war and simply 
give in to the entreaties of 
the marketing folks. They 
want you to buy a new 
computer (and printer, hard 
drive, etc.) every year. Why? 
Because your old one is obso- 
lete! This year's model is better, 
faster, more powerful! You couldn't 
possibly edit 240GB of video on that old 
blunderbuss of a Pentium 4. That 1.2GHz CPU is nowhere 
near fast enough to mix a 12-track audio recording. Your 
meager 12GB hard drive can't possibly hold the 12,000 
songs in your CD collection! 

Well, the marketers are right, actually. But only if you re- 
ally need to edit 240GB of video, create a 12-track audio 
studio on your PC, or move 12,000 songs to your hard drive. 
In reality, your computer only needs to be upgraded or re- 
placed once it stops doing what you need it to do. If all you do 
with your PC is surf the Web, send email, and write the occa- 
sional shopping list, it doesn't really matter that your machine 
won't run the newest version of QuarkXPress or Microsoft 
Office. If you can keep it safe from spyware and viruses, and if 
it does the things you need it to do, then it's not obsolete. 

Will it someday become obsolete? That depends mostly 
on what you use it for. When you decide you want to get 
into video editing, then yes, you'll need more speed, more 
power, and a larger hard drive. When you opt to publish a 
magazine and need to use high-end desktop publishing and 
image- editing applications, then yes, you'll want to think 
about a new PC. In the meantime, though, there's ab- 
solutely nothing wrong with running Windows 98 (or what- 
ever) on your old computer, so long as it still does the job 
for which it was intended. 

There's no need to get rid of something if it's doing the 
job you need it to do. Kind of like old cars. Or old editors. 
Or, for that matter, old husbands. II 

by Rod Scher 

Rod Scher is a former 
teacher. He s also the , 

vare developer and a recovering Engh 

ttact Rod at 

108 July 2005 / 


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